Nature conservation organisations call on UK Government to deliver ambitious vision for nature and people
An ambitious and inspirational long-term plan is urgently needed to save nature and improve our well-being as the UK Government considers its spending priorities. That is the clear message from the Response for Nature report published on 13 October 2015 by a coalition of leading conservation organisations.
The Response for Nature report for England – a follow-up to the 2013 State of Nature report – was launched by BAFTA-award winning naturalist, writer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall, and 26 conservation organisations in London, with simultaneous events held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, to launch reports for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Each report makes key recommendations to which governments must respond to, to help restore nature in the UK.
The conservation organisations say that we are losing nature at an alarming rate, so we must act now to halt and reverse this decline before it’s too late – not only for nature itself, but people too.
In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind for the UK. The resulting State of Nature report revealed that 60 per cent of the species studied had declined over recent decades. More than one in 10 of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our lands and shores altogether.
Above: Red kite, Ben Hall (RSPB-images.com); Brown hare, Chris Gomersall (RSPB-images.com)
Above: Sunset over heathland, Ben Hall (RSPB-images.com); Yellowhammer, Tom Marshall (RSPB-images.com)
In his speech at the London launch Steve Backshall said: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road.
“Let us be in no doubt that the public is behind us. An independent survey showed that 90 per cent of the UK population feels that our well-being and quality of life is based on nature.
“Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every department needs to understand that restoring nature will be a key solution to some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic problems. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it.
“To the Government, I say – please read this report, take note and act on its recommendations. Come back with the details of your 25-year plan for the environment. People and nature need you to make it a great one.”
The Response for Nature reports outlines specific asks for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature. It calls on the UK Government, or devolved governments, to:
* Deliver an inspiring vision for nature
* Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature
* Deliver a network of special places for nature on land and at sea
* Recover threatened species targeted through programmes of action
* Improve the connection of young people to nature for their health and well-being and for nature’s future
* Provide incentives, or other financial measures, that work for nature
* Support people working together for nature
Butterfly Conservation Chief Executive, Dr Martin Warren, speaking at the Response for Nature launch, said: “Nature is in trouble, the time to act is now. Conservation NGOs are keen to play their part but we need a strong lead from the UK Government.
“We welcome the commitment to produce a 25-year plan to restore nature but this must be turned into effective action and fast. We need this for nature but also for the health and well-being of the people of this country.”
As the Chancellor considers the Spending Review and budgets for government departments, the Response for Nature coalition is urging the government not to undervalue the contribution that a healthy environment can make in delivering a host of public benefits including improved health and happiness, more effective planning, flood prevention, sustainable farming and climate change adaptation.
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “There are some big decisions being made over the coming months about public spending, the future of nature laws and development on land and at sea. These decisions must not erode the basis of nature protection.
“We need leadership from the Prime Minister to ensure all Government Departments play their part in enhancing the environment for this and future generations.”
The Response for Nature coalition for England includes the following partners:
A Focus on Nature
A Rocha UK
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust
Bat Conservation Trust
Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
British Bryological Society
British Pteridological Society
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
Freshwater Habitats Trust
Friends of the Earth
The Fungus Conservation Trust
John Muir Trust
The Mammal Society
Marine Conservation Society
People’s Trust for Endangered Species
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
The Wildlife Trusts
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
The Woodland Trust