News Round-Up

208,498 people back legal target for nature’s recovery

A petition calling for a legal target to halt the decline of nature by 2030 has been handed in to Rt Hon George Eustice MP, the Environment Secretary.

The petition has been signed by over 208,000 people, and is backed by 70 organisations, and prominent wildlife campaigners including Chris Packham, Steve Backshall and Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl).

The campaign is backed by a cross-party group of politicians from across the Houses of Parliament. The hand-in was attended by Lord Randall (Conservative), Baroness Jones (Labour), Baroness Parminter (Liberal Democrat) and Professor Lord Krebs (cross-bench), who have all signed an amendment to the law in support of a target to halt nature’s decline by 2030.

It calls for the target to be set in the Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Lords.

So far, the Government has included a target for species abundance for 2030, but campaigners say that this is weak, because it does not set the level of ambition – to halt the decline of nature by 2030. They say that it falls far short of the “net zero for nature” recently promised by Government in the Environment Secretary’s speech at Delamere Forest on 18th May.

Stanley Johnson has recorded a video in support of the campaign.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“At his recent speech at Delamere Forest, the Secretary of State gave me a commitment that the Government would halt the decline of species by 2030 and begin a trajectory towards nature’s recovery. The Government’s published target falls short of that ambition, disappointing the more than 200,000 people who have called on the Government to introduce a clear legally-binding target to halt the decline of wildlife by 2030. Alongside new powers to unpick the legal protections for nature, this means we face a future defined by an increasing loss of nature. Why would we set a target that only slows the ongoing decline of nature?

“Nature has provided us so much over the last year – but it’s declining at a speed never previously seen. One in seven species in the UK are now threatened with extinction. Without real Government action to reverse this trend now, we risk losing some of our wildlife forever. We cannot afford to wait any longer – it’s time the Government matched its promises with real action.”

Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB, said: 

“Across England once common species are becoming rare or vanishing entirely from our daily life, and people are demanding urgent action from our politicians. The Environment Bill should be the blueprint for saving nature, an unambiguous commitment to halting and reversing the declines we are seeing in our wildlife. We remember how the Climate Change Act was a recognition that we faced a crisis that was a threat to our country and our way of life that was bigger than politics, requiring action from not just the Government of the day but from future governments – tens of thousands of people are now calling on the Prime Minister to deliver an equivalent response to the nature emergency. There is a clear mandate for the State of Nature amendment, including from our own commitments on the global stage – it is time for our leaders to deliver.”

Dr Mark Avery, a co-director and co-founder of Wild Justice, said: 

“Our supporters won’t trust the government to deliver on wildlife conservation unless they see it in writing in the Environment Bill and then made law.  This is a crucial promise from the present to the future.’

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

“The test of a politician’s promises on the international stage is whether they match their rhetoric in law. We applaud the Prime Minister’s G7 commitments for nature. He has made his world-leading environmental ambitions a regular refrain. Now, he must give his words some legal backbone by strengthening the Environment Bill with an unequivocal commitment to halt the decline of wildlife in England by 2030.”

The nature experts say putting nature’s recovery in law would be ‘a net-zero target for wildlife’ with England becoming the first country in the world to have a legal target to tackle the nature crisis. It could not only reverse decades of decline for English nature it would be a rallying point and catalyst for other countries to adopt similar targets – making us real global leaders going into international climate and nature talks this Autumn.

The Government has accepted the need to halt the decline of nature. In the G7 Nature Compact, in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and in its response to the Dasgupta Review, the Government stated its intention to “halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030”.

However, those promises have not yet been reflected in the law.

Header image: The Wildlife Trusts.