What is the Government doing to help nature recovery in the UK?
Bearing in mind, the majority of the world’s nations have declared a biodiversity crisis, what’s our Government doing to resolve this issue in UK – one of the world’s most nature depleted countries?
Falling short on targets
To summarise a fairly complex situation, in mid-January 2023, the Government’s own appointed watchdog for the environment, the Office for Environmental Protection released a report in mid-January 2023 that showed the government was falling short on all 23 environmental targets that had been laid out in 2018. The report acknowledged that there had been a further severe decline in species abundance and little action had been taken to improve climate resilience.
‘A greener, more prosperous country’
After some inertia, the Government swung into action in late January with a raft of publications including its much-delayed revision to the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 claiming it will build ‘a greener, more prosperous country’.
Among other publications, there was also Defra’s blog that attempts to clarify what this means for farmers and land managers. And then, late in February came guidance on its Understanding Biodiversity Net Gain.
Biodiversity net gain: does it work?
There’s only so much one can take in, but we’ll finish with a salutary warning on the much trumpeted ‘biodiversity net gain’ policy. This can be found loitering in the findings from the House of Commons cross-party Environmental Audit Committee’s report “Biodiversity in the UK: bloom or bust?”.
Back in June 2021, and after taking evidence from many organisations, the Committee’s view (p 67) is “The biodiversity net gain policy, in its current form, does not go far enough in contribution to the transformative change necessary to address biodiversity loss in the UK.” and that “The failure to move towards a system of net environmental gain risks undermining the government’s plans for a green recovery and allows developers to focus entirely on biodiversity, rather than treat the environment as a system. This could lead to severe habitat fragmentation."
So, in answer to the question posed upfront in this blog, it seems we have to wait and see. Perhaps all the words will translate into action and we can all breathe a sigh of relief... but perhaps not.
Whatever the result, the LANCE Trust will continue to do what it can. After all, a recent report by scientists shows that the huge current losses of biodiversity could be the start of a new mass extinction. And that, as the report states could be the ‘harbinger of a more devastating ecosystem collapse’. Globally. Something we all want to avoid, so we hope you will join us. Please contact us here to see what you can do.