Government policy and targets ‘insufficient’ to stem the tide of UK biodiversity loss, says report

Photo by Akil Mazumder:

The Environmental Audit Committee urges the Government to conserve and restore UK biodiversity and ecosystems in a new report, amid grave concern that of the G7 countries, the UK has the lowest level of biodiversity remaining.

According to the Committee, existing Government policy and targets were ‘inadequate to address plummeting biodiversity loss.’

This is reported to be made worse by nature policy not being joined up across Government, nor is nature protection consistently factored into policy-making.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne, commented on the announcement: “The UK is home to many millions of species, but Government inaction to protect habitats is leading to a significant decline in wildlife.

“Although there are countless Government policies and targets to ‘leave the environment in a better state than we found it’, too often they are grandiose statements lacking teeth and devoid of effective delivery mechanisms.

“We have no doubt that the ambition is there, but a poorly-mixed cocktail of ambitious targets, superficial strategies, funding cuts and lack of expertise is making any tangible progress incredibly challenging.

“All Government departments must consistently factor nature into policy decisions, the Bank of England should develop a nature stress-test, and the 25-year Environment Plan must have interim statutory targets to assess progress.

“Despite central Government’s responsibility for policy decisions, the responsibility for nurturing natural habitats also rests with each and every citizen.

“Work to embed nature into the national curriculum, and to inspire the ecologists of the future, is absolutely crucial if we are to protect biodiversity effectively for generations to come.”

Some of the Committee’s recommendations include:

  • The Government should introduce statutory interim targets – met by every Government department – to ensure that its proposed species abundance target is met to halt the decline of nature by 2030.
  • The Government should implement a preferred approach to data management and monitoring, to strengthen a consistent evidence base on the UK’s natural capital. The data should inform decision-making in Government far more substantially than at present.
  • The Government must establish a timetable to put management plans and monitoring in place for all Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), with different categories of destructive bottom trawling banned or restricted. More MPAs should be established as ‘no-take’ zones.
  • In the next Spending Review, greater funding must be given to Natural England which reflects its responsibilities and tasks.
  • The Government must provide a comprehensive, consistent, and time-bound record of funding for the 25 Year Environment Plan.

The full ‘Biodiversity in the UK: bloom or bust?’-report can be read on the UK Parliament website.