London: England is losing a species every fortnight, according to a study.
Previous studies focused on the historical loss of iconic species like birds and animals. But the Oxford University study looked at the extinction of lesser-known species like lichen, microbial slime and mosses, Daily Mail reported on its website Tuesday.
It found that in the last two hundred years up to five percent of the country`s 60,000 species were lost every year.
If this rate continues, it would mean 26 species are lost in England every year. In Britain as a whole it is an even higher rate of extinction of 40 species a year, or almost one a week.
The study also showed that birds are a good indicator of extinction rates as a whole. This could mean that studying the loss of birds would enable scientists to measure extinction rates in remote areas of the world.
A report of the research will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Biological Conservation as UN countries prepare to meet in Japan Oct 18-29 to discuss new targets to protect wildlife. In March this year, the British government`s advisory body, Natural England, reported about 500 species lost from England since 1800.
Clive Hambler of Oxford University`s department of zoology, said the rate of extinction could be 10 times higher.
"The losses reported by Natural England are under 0.5 percent per century, from England`s 55,000 species," he said. "Our research suggests that the actual losses could be over 10 times this number, with about one species going extinct in England every fortnight."
"Many ancient and important habitats in Britain are threatened today because of human activity and population growth -- whether it`s an increase in water use, growing use of wood fuel, or the growth of urban sprawl," Hambler said.
"Despite conservationists` efforts, it`s very likely extinction rates will continue to rise in Britain and globally for many years. These losses will impact on human welfare, and I`d say conservation needs a profile and resources even bigger than climate change."