The latest State of Nature report, released last month, did little to gladden the heart. It suggests that since the 1970s there has been a 13% decrease in average abundance across the wildlife groups studied in the UK and that the declines continue unabated. The stats are relentless (see p. 634). The latest report on scarce migrant birds (pp. 639–660) also shows a general pattern of ups and downs against a greater backcloth of dwindling populations.
With all that going on it was hugely refreshing to get an e-mail from Nicola Weber, lead author of the Ascension Island paper (pp. 661–682), with the final changes to her manuscript. These chiefly involved the revelation that one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, 445,000 km2 and stretching 200 nautical miles from the island, is now a reality rather than a proposal. Last-minute adjustments to main papers are usually not greeted warmly at the editorial desk but I certainly made an exception in this case.
632 BB eye: The outlook for wetland conservation James Robinson
634 News and comment Adrian Pitches
639 Report on scarce migrant birds in Britain in 2017: passerines Steve White and Chris Kehoe
661 Important Bird Areas: Ascension Island Nicola Weber and Sam Weber
694 Recent reports