Really rare? Making British decisions in conservation
By Jack Ashby, on 12 December 2011
Should species like red squirrels be protected in England when they are common in Europe?
This is the newest question we are asking in our QRator iPad displays.
There is a limited amount of money available for conservation. Not everything can be protected. How important is it if an animal goes extinct in one country if they still exist elsewhere? Some species, like red squirrels are common in Europe but declining in the UK – should they be protected here? Do local extinctions affect global biodiversity?
The specimens we have chosen to represent this question tell these stories:
Despite populations being of no concern globally, these rodents are threatened in the UK and they receive an intense conservation effort.
All bats have extremely high levels of legal protection in Britain, but some of these species are common in other parts of their ranges.
Should more resources be diverted away from British species that aren’t globally rare to species like this, which are classed as endangered?
GREAT CRESTED NEWT
This amphibian is considered a conservation priority in some of its native countries, including Britain, but it is of least concern globally.
This species was probably never common in the UK; despite being widespread across much of the Northern Hemisphere, it is protected here.
It cost £2m over seven years to reintroduce this rodent to Britain. Would this money have been better spent protecting existing species?
This species became extinct in the UK and is now globally critically endangered. Local extinctions are the first step to total extinction.
Do let us know what you think by getting involved in the conversation on the QRator project website.