By Adam Vaughan

Centres, which rely on thousands of volunteers and described as ‘eyes and ears’ of natural world, told contract ending early

Conservationists have criticised the decision to withdraw funding from a network of tens of thousands of local wildlife volunteers who collect data on the health of a variety of species and act as the “eyes and ears” of the government’s nature watchdog.

Local environmental record centres (Lercs), which collect and collate records of everything from great crested newts to bats and are used to inform planning decisions on legally protected species, have been told that a four-year deal to collect data is to end just one year in.