When one thinks of reintroducing wildlife, one usually thinks of big charismatic mammals, such as wolves or beaver, or desperate birds like the Californian condor. But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Scotland is going one step further to save the UK’s unique ecology with plans to reintroduce four species of dwindling insects.
While RSPB’s focus is on birds, the organization works with all kinds of British wildlife. “No conservation organization worth its salt concentrates on just one species and ignores all others,” explains Lloyd Austin, RSPB Scotland’s head of conservation policy, in a press release. “2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and that chimes perfectly with our efforts to protect whole ecosystems on our reserves from the smallest bug to the tallest tree,”
Plans are in place to reintroduce the dark bordered beauty moth, which is only known from only three locations in the UK, all of them unprotected. Living up to its name, the moth is a lovely species: tawny yellow with brown on its wing’s edges. RSPB is working with Butterfly Conservation to establish a breeding program for eventual rerelease.
RSPB is also working with Scottish Natural Heritage to reintroduce the pine hoverfly in 2011. The fly only breeds in rotting hollow tree stumps, which are largely missing in the UK due to forestry practices.
In addition, the RSPB is working on projects to release field crickets into the Surrey and Sussex heathlands, and return the short haired bumblebees to Kent.
“Conservation is about much more than simply stopping damaging activities to protect what is there. We have a duty to take positive action to restore species that have been lost. We have the ability to enhance and improve our existing habitats and countryside, and we are actively engaged in trying to achieve that,” Austin said.
The RSPB has successfully reintroduced birds in the past, but insect reintroductions are proving to be an entirely different animal.
“Releasing invertebrates brings all kinds of new challenges as they can be very sensitive to even the slightest changes in habitat. We will need to keep a close eye on how they are faring and make sure we continue to provide the right conditions for them,” said Dr. Robert Sheldon, Head of Reserves Ecology at RSPB Scotland.
(01/13/2010) Few species receive less respect and less conservation attention than insects. This despite the fact that they are some of the most diverse species on the planet andthey provide a number of essential services to humankind, including pollination, pest control, production (for example honey and silk), waster recycling, and indications of habitat health. Scientists are not only unsure just how many species of insects are threatened in world; they are equally uncertain how many insects exist. Currently there are nearly a million insect species described by science, but millions more likely exist. It’s probable that innumerable insect species have vanished before even being catalogued by entomologists.
(01/05/2010) Housing developments within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of America’s national parks have nearly quadrupled in sixty years, rising from 9.8 million housing units to 38 million from 1940 to 2000. The explosion of housing developments adjacent to national parks threatens wildlife in a variety of ways, according to a new study in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “We are in danger of loving these protected areas to death,” says co-author Anna Pidgeon as assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
(11/04/2009) According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) 2008 report, released yesterday, 36 percent of the total species evaluated by the organization are threatened with extinction. If one adds the species classified as Near Threatened, the percentage jumps to 44 percent—nearly half.