Woodland species under serious threat

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WOODLAND species such as the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Willow Tit are in danger of vanishing from our countryside according to alarming new research.

The RSPB State of Nature report reveals how 60 per cent of the UK’s woodland species have decreased. A further 34 per cent have decreased strongly

over recent decades.

The Willow Tit was once widespread across the country but numbers have plummeted over the last three decades and recorded sightings in Sussex have all but stopped. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is is also rare sight in the county.

In the late 1980s Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were recorded in 175 areas across Sussex or 16.4 per cent of the county. In 2011, they were recorded in just 49 areas or 2.7 per cent of Sussex.

The report also revealed that of 262 woodland flowering plants assessed, 30 are on the national endangered Red List. Butterflies have declined by 43 per cent since 1990.

The declines of most woodland species are linked to changes in the structure of woodlands, due to increased grazing pressure by deer, changes to management practices and woodland ageing.

Samantha Stokes, RSPB South East spokeswoman, said: “Our scientists are trying desperately to establish why these birds are vanishing from so many sites. Knowing the distribution of the species will give the best chance of hanging on to these endearing birds. Please report their sighting to the Sussex Ornithological Society at www.sos.org.uk. The more information we can gather the better chance we have of stopping further declines.”