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UK bird numbers continue to crash as government poised to break own targets

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Bird populations in the UK continue to crash, new data shows, as campaigners predict the government will fail to meet its own nature targets unless radical changes are made.

Statistics released by the government show that bird populations continue to decline in the long and short term. In 2021, on average the abundance of 130 breeding species was 12% below its 1970 value. Though much of this loss was between the late 1970s and the late 1980s, caused mostly by relatively steep declines in woodland and farmland birds, there was still a significant 5% decrease between 2015 and 2020.

Between 2015 and 2020, 24% of species increased, 28% showed little change and 48% declined. Woodland birds continue to fare the worst, with a 12% decline between 2015 and 2020.

Wildlife experts agree that the decline in bird populations is largely driven by habitat loss.

The government passed the Environment Act into law in 2021, which requires a halt in species decline by 2030. Campaigners have said that radical changes to government policy are needed if it is to meet its own legally binding targets.


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