The study which was published yesterday (March 11) paints a bleak picture for the future of many species as it claims to put centuries of conservation records under the microscope.

It identifies nearly 500 animals and plants that have become extinct in England – practically all within the last two centuries.

On top of this, nearly 1000 native species have been given conservation priority status because of the severity of the threats facing them.

However, the Natural England study Lost Life: England’s Lost and Threatened Species reveals many species are making a home for themselves on contaminated land.

It picks out the Tees Valley as home to the dingy skipper butterfly having colonised many brownfield sites along the Tees Estuary.

And, it also lists other areas where animals and plants are flourishing in area industrialised and then abandoned by humans.

Natural England chief executive, Dr Helen Phillips, said: “Every species has a role and, like rivets in an aeroplane, the overall structure of our environment is weakened each time a single species is lost.

“Biodiversity matters and with more and more of our species and habitats confined to isolated, protected sites we need to think on a much broader geographical scale about how we can reverse the losses of the recent past and secure a more solid future for our wildlife.”

Luke Walsh

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