Wiltshire Wildlife Trust says that new plan must be given full backing.
THE GOVERNMENT published its much anticipated Environmental Improvement Plan at the end of January.
The plan sets out how the government aims to contribute to reversing the chronic loss of wildlife and meet its target to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.
In a statement, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust welcomed the goals included within the plan, including to:
● Launch a Species Survival Fund to create, enhance and restore habitats
● Create, restore and extend around 70 areas for wildlife through projects – including new National Nature Reserves, and the next rounds of the Landscape Recovery Projects
● Protect 30% of the UK’s land and sea for nature through the Nature Recovery Network
● Implement the Environment Act 2021, including rolling out ●Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify areas to create and restore habitat, and achieve Biodiversity Net Gain
● Provide the public with access to green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers
● Support a transformation in the management of 70% of the UK’s countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly farming practices
● Publish an updated Green Finance Strategy
New legally-binding targets for nature were recently passed under the Environment Act and a landmark international agreement was reached at COP15 – new policy measures must be capable of ensuring that nature can recover.
With less than seven years left to meet this target, a dramatic increase in funding is needed to achieve it.
While Wiltshire Wildlife Trust welcomes the government’s renewed focus on restoring nature and improving people’s access to the natural environment, it is concerned that environmental targets are currently not on track to be met and a dramatic increase of £1.2bn extra per year is needed to restore nature.
Nature’s recovery takes time. It is widely acknowledged that wildlife declines will persist for several years before reversal can be achieved with the current level of funding, even under optimal conditions.
Gary Mantle, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said: “A dramatic increase in funding is needed if the UK is to reach its target to protect 30% of our land and sea for nature by 2030.
“Progress towards this target is painfully slow because government funding for biodiversity is more than 10% lower than it was a decade ago – yet we know that £1.2billion extra each year is needed to restore nature.
“The government must find new cash to do this – not just recycle existing funding pots under new names.”
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust joins other Wildlife Trusts across the country and other environmental organisations in expressing concerns about the following:
● There is still no plan on how to reach 30 by 30 – this is the government’s stated commitment to manage 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.
● Progress towards this international target has been painfully slow, with just 3.2% of the nation’s land currently protected.
● Only 38% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England are in favourable condition despite being some of the most precious sites for nature. This is despite there being a policy commitment to reach 50% of SSSIs in favourable condition by 2020 (set out in England’s biodiversity strategy for 2010 to 2020). Far more funding is needed to improve SSSIs for nature.
● The Retained EU Law Bill threatens to undermine progress by removing thousands of laws that protect our most precious wild places and rare wildlife at the end of this year.