Quarter of UK mammals at risk of extinction

Water Vole. Photo: Essex Wildlife Trust

The first 'Red List' -  of UK mammals has concluded that a quarter of all UK mammal species is under threat of extinction if current population trends continue. 

The Red List is the official list categorising species based on their conservation status - or how threatened they are. Based on evidence of the number of animals remaining and how fragmented the population is, the list considers threats to the survival of species and their habitats using internationally-agreed criteria for assessing the conservation status of different species. As a result, two UK species have been assessed as critically endangered, with many familiar species such as the water vole, red squirrel and hedgehog classified as either Endangered or Vulnerable.

Although different animals face different threats a common theme is loss of and fragmentation of habitat, meaning that individuals of many species struggle to move through the landscape to find food, shelter and mates. For some species on the list such as the Beaver, reintroductions such as the one at Finchingfield in Essex may help, but for most species the focus needs to be on habitat restoration, not just on protected sites but also in the wider landscape.

More information can be found on the website of the Mammal Society