Hedgehogs included on conservation action listOrchards and ponds also make protection plan

28 August 2007

 

Once-common UK animals including hedgehogs, house sparrows and harvest mice have been added to a government-approved list of species needing protection.

The garden and countryside favourites are among the animals, insects, fish, birds and plants listed under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

A number of the country's wildlife habitats, including traditional orchards and ponds, have also been added to the list as priorities for protection.

There are now 1,149 species of plants and animals and 65 habitats listed, up from 577 species and 49 habitats on the previous conservation list drawn up 10 years ago.

Grass snake

The revised list sees the garden tiger moth and the grass snake joining previously prioritised creatures such as the otter, bottlenosed dolphin, red squirrel and black grouse.

Pine martens, wild cats, mountain hares and brown long-eared bats have all been added to the list.

Sedges, helleborine and marsh orchids and two threatened species of dandelion are among the plants which have been included.

Dandelions threatened

Biodiversity Minister Joan Ruddock said the government was aiming to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 and the priority list would help target resources.

‘Through the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, we have shown that we can be very successful when we target our resources at conserving particular species and habitats.

‘We have increased the population of the rare bird the cirl bunting and increased the areas of lowland heathland. We have even been able to remove some species from the list such as the Killarney fern and the prickly sedge, because we have already met all our action plan objectives.

‘Of course it is also true that some species are newly included because of new declines or threats, and I am only too well aware of declines in the hedgehog and house sparrow as well as the Atlantic salmon.’

Pipistrelle bat

A total 123 species have been removed from the previous list and while some such as the pipistrelle bat are off because their population has stabilised, others including the large copper butterfly are not so lucky.

The insect is extinct in the UK and with previous reintroduction attempts unsuccessful, there are no plans to try to reintroduce it again.