The house sparrow needs greater conservation

Hedgehogs, house sparrows (above), the cuckoo and the grass snake are just a few of the species that have joined the list of species and habitats that are in need of protection.

The new Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) has named 1,149 species and 65 habitats that require greater conservation, including the otter and red squirrel. In the last BAP, just 577 species were listed, and 100 of these have since been removed.

Over 500 wildlife experts were involved in compiling the BAP. Biodiversity minister Joan Ruddok said that this list would help the government revise its conservation policy, saying: ‘The new list will help us target our resources and efforts where they are needed.’

However, the conservation director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Dr Mark Avery said: ‘Over the last 12 years, the BAP system has helped everyone focus attention on priority species. To its credit, we have seen dramatic increases in key species, like bittern, stone-curlew, corncrake, nightjar, cirl bunting and woodlark. However, the fact that the bird list now includes more than a fifth of all of the UK’s regularly occurring birds is a cause of alarm, especially as the list now includes a number of woodland birds and summer visiting birds like the cuckoo.’