Lord de Mauley seems to think that we are a shoo-in to meet the 2020 biodiversity target of halting biodiversity loss.
This is what four of our leading wildlife NGOs think:
Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation says: ‘I think it is extremely unlikely that the UK will meet all the targets set out at the CBD conference at Aichi, and those set within the EU. Although the government has put in place many good initiatives such as agri-environment schemes and Nature Improvement Areas, the resources going in have either ceased or have been drastically reduced. NGOs are working hard to pick up the slack but they need more governmental support and stronger policies to protect key sites and halt the decline of threatened species.’
Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife says: ‘Halting the loss of biodiversity is entirely achievable. Although there are now only 5 years left until the 2020 deadline, if the new Government was serious about halting wildlife declines then quick action to bolster resources and efforts in the first year could see the corner turned by 2020, even if some biological responses would still take a while to take effect.
The current trajectory is towards failure, 60% of UK species are in decline and species such as the Horrid ground weaver are under threat of global extinction. Unfortunately the coalition failed to deliver the main plank of their commitment to wildlife “We will introduce measures to….promote…..wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity”. It has been left to Buglife to build local coalitions with the Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, Co-op and Local Authorities to develop a national network of wild flower grassland wildlife corridors – B-Lines. A new Government would have to quickly increase funding for nature conservation from the current pittance to a realistic figure, introduce a Nature and Wellbeing Act, and enable partnerships of agencies, NGOs, companies and land owners to get a move on. At the moment we have not seen sufficient commitment to such a gear change from any of the big political parties to have any confidence that the trajectory be corrected.‘
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscapes of the Wildlife Trusts says: ‘Halting the loss, let alone securing recovery, of nature across the UK by 2020 was always going to be hugely challenging. The evidence outlined in the State of Nature report is a sobering reminder. It suggests targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 are looking increasingly and worryingly ambitious. However, we’ve shown we can reverse declines with care and resources, the challenge is to do it at scale. There are systemic and resource-related issues that are working against us meeting this challenge, hence our call for a Nature and Wellbeing Act and a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. We know now, more than ever, that it is critical for nature’s own sake, and our own, that we meet it. Up and down the UK, The Wildlife Trusts are working incredibly hard to play our part – working at a landscape-scale with hundreds of farmers, businesses and tens of thousands of volunteers to manage and create habitats, restore ecosystems, and inspire all ages to connect with nature. It will be hard but, we must believe, and have hope, we can get there.‘
Martin Harper, Conservation Director of the RSPB says: ‘The next occupants of Defra and Number Ten face a challenging task in hitting the 2020 targets as things currently stand but – who knows – with adequate resources, effective and properly enforced regulation and a determined political will to succeed, anything is theoretically possible. We are looking forward to the manifesto commitments with great interest and to working with the person who next occupies the hot seat, to help them tackle the challenge.‘
I get the impression that the NGOs think that the next government would have to pull its finger out to meet the 2020 target. Business as usual won’t do the job. But that’s just the view of the people who have been doing nature conservation for years – what would they know…?