Your species champions at Westminster

Westminster MPs have stepped forward to become champions for different endangered species (and a similar scheme exists in Scotland).  There is an interesting article about this in the current BBC Wildlife Magazine written by James Fair.

I’m quoted in the article and my point is whether these MPs will speak out for their species on contentious issues such as HS2, farming policy, Natural England’s budget and powers, neonicotinoids etc etc. because all these things and others affect the species. Will the species benefit from their MPs, or will it work the other way around with the MPs benefitting from some greenwash from their species?  Well, we’ll have to see.

As you look through the list below you will notice more Conservatives than Labour (or Lib Dem or Green) MPs and I guess that is partly because the Tories are more likely to represent rural constituencies which contain these species (Sarah Wollaston is the obvious candidate for the Cirl Bunting for example – although Ben Bradshaw could have a case) but it might also be that the Conservatives have (more MPs and) a deeper interest in wildlife overall.

Also, as you look through the list you should not think to yourself ‘Ah! Horrid!’ or ‘slippery customer’ when you associate MPs with their species – no, you must not.

Harriett Baldwin MP (West Worcester) Violet click beetle

Richard Benyon MP (Newbury) Snake’s head fritillary

Jake Berry MP (Rossendale and Darwen) Curlew

Steve Brine MP (Winchester) Striped Lychnis moth

Therese Coffey MP (Suffolk Coastal) Bittern

Tracey Crouch MP (Chatham and Aylesford) Common poppy

Jon Cruddas MP (Dagenham and Rainham) Eel

Philip Dunne MP (Ludlow) Wood white butterfly

Mark Garnier MP (Wyre Forest) Lesser-spotted Woodpecker

Helen Hayes MP (Dulwich & West Norwood) Common pipistrelle

Peter Heaton-Jones MP (North Devon) Greater horseshoe bat

Nick Herbert MP (Arundel and South Downs) Lapwing

Kevin Hollinrake MP (Thirsk and Malton) Puffin

Rt. Hon. Norman Lamb MP (North Norfolk) Fen orchid

Caroline Lucas MP (Brighton Pavilion) Round-headed rampion

Scott Mann MP (North Cornwall) Sea bass

Rachael Maskell MP (York Central) Tansy beetle

Kerry McCarthy MP (Bristol East) Swift

Alison McGovern MP (Wirral South) Small copper butterfly

Huw Merriman MP (Bexhill and Battle) Longhorn beetle

Caroline Nokes MP (Romsey and Southampton North) Duke of Burgundy

Neil Parish MP (Tiverton and Honiton) Marsh fritillary

Claire Perry MP (Devizes) Broken-belted bumblebee

Jess Phillips MP (Birmingham Yardley) Dunnock

Rebecca Pow MP (Taunton Deane) Snipe

Barry Sheerman MP (Huddersfield) Noctule bat

Angela Smith MP (Penistone and Stocksbridge) Hen Harrier

Caroline Spelman (Meriden) Willow Tit

Gary Streeter MP (South West Devon) Horrid ground-weever spider

Rt. Hon. Sir Desmond Swayne MP (New Forest West) Smooth snake

Derek Thomas MP (St Ives and the Isles of Scilly)  Manx shearwater

Kelly Tolhurst MP (Rochester and Strood) Nightingale

Anna Turley MP (Redcar)  Little Tern

Charles Walker MP (Broxbourne) Salmon

Matt Warman MP (Boston and Skegness) Redshank

Bill Wiggin MP (North Herefordshire) Spreading bellflower

Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP (South Staffordshire) Barn Owl

Sarah Wollaston MP (Totnes) Cirl Bunting

Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge) Ruderal bumblebee


If any of these is your MP then do, please, write and congratulate them today – they’ll like it and be a bit surprised that anyone noticed. Give it a few months and then ask them what they have done for their species in parliament to date.  By doing either or both you will be helping this twinning scheme to work.



19 Replies to “Your species champions at Westminster”

  1. Being cynical to a rather alarming degree, I can’t help thinking this is a) good PR for Mps (we’re helping wildlife!) b) not really helping wildlife and c) a waste of time. The most endangered species is an MP who is actually prepared to stand up for wildlife. But let’s see how it works.

  2. Locally we have just started a Bee Road project. As our local MP is a bee champion I expect we will get her total support.

    1. Rich – they are all over the place then! I wonder why wildlife isn’t doing better? thank you.

      1. I have often asked myself the same question! With all these champions about we should be knee deep in watervoles and beating barn owls off with a stick…

  3. No champion for poor old brock though, remembering it’s a protected species!

    No Peregrine or Short-eared Owl either.

    Telling or opportunity?

    1. nimby – I think the species will have been taken off various ‘lists’. They aren’t a bad start and cover a range of habitats and a wide variety of issues. Rather than have more of them, I’d like to see how the whole thing works.

      Anyway, when you’ve culled the numbers of MPs there won’t be enough to go around!

  4. 39 champions from a potential 650 (600 if we believe they will cull) so a start? 16 for birds, 11 invertebrates, 5 plants, 3 mammals, 3 fish and a lizard!

    Perhaps we should invite our MPs to become champions if they are not already one?

    1. I hope I’ve not missed any species in your list, but I’ve just asked Margaret Greenwood if she’d ‘adopt’ the Natterjack Toad, as they exist here on the Wirral. (and the Sefton coast)

  5. Is there a list anywhere showing us which endangered species are still available so that we can contact our MPs to suggest joining the scheme and a suitable species they might like to champion? My newly minted Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, seems keen on ‘green issues’ so it would be good to encourage her interest.

  6. I am glad you told me not to associate certain “horrid” creatures with their MPs!

    On the other hand, my cynicism gets the better of me – Sarah Wollaston is my MP and I cant think what she could do to stand up for cirl buntings. Her record on fracking does not encourage me to think she cares for the environment very much and writing to her usually results in a formulaic “I know better than you ” response.

    1. Philip – thank you. I don’t know your MP as well as you may but I admire her work in parliament on medical matters.

      And I have no idea what she does for Cirl Bunting but here are some things she might do: talk about the local success in Cirl Bunting conservation when she meets local farmers and representatives of the NFU etc, mention Cirl Buntings similarly in her newsletter (if she has one), talk to the RSPB and NE locally about what needs to be done to maintain and increase this success, mention the success of agri-environment schemes for the CB when our new post-Brexit farming strategy is being developed with lessons to be learned, mention CB when housing developments threaten their habitat (not the MP’s call but they have influence with local councillors), wear a Cirl Bunting pin badge to Westminster occasionally and be prepared to explain why when people ask what that bird is, be photographed with a bunch of wildlife explorers/wildlife watch group looking for CBs, spend an hour actually dong some practical conservation work for CB (if the opportunity arises) in return for getting her photo in the local paper. How am I doing? I could go on. Why don’t you write and ask her?

      1. I have witnessed Sarah standing up to Owen Paterson, John Redwood and Bill Wiggin to argue for more agrienvironment schemes focussed on endangered species. She did so with the vigour and authority that only comes from personal experience.

  7. There were awards for Species Champions in July this year. Rachael Maskell MP for York won for being the MP who has raised the profike of their species the most (Tansy Beetle).
    There were honourable mentions for Oliver Colvile (Hedgehog) and Scott Mann (Sea Bass).
    Sarah Wollaston won the award for the species that had improved its status the most. She does tweet and blog about Cirl Bunting (easily found searching with Google). In that category, there was ahonourable mention for Norman Lamb (Fen Orchid).
    Matt Warman won the Muddy Welly Award (the MP who has been most active in the field) for Redshank. An honourable mention went to Daniel Zeichner for Ruderal Bumblebee.
    It’s a start, is raising awareness with the MPs involved, their peers and hopefully constituents and a wider audience.
    Now to encourage my MP to become one …

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