Jun 29th, 14:34
Blog - 29th June 2023
In this blog I consider the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’ and how local government should respond.
The Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (RSPB), National Trust (NT) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have been encouraging their members to write to their members of Parliament (MPs) to urge them to support the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’.
The ‘People's Plan for Nature’, has been produced by a representative group of ordinary citizens who came together as the People’s Assembly for Nature. It outlines a compelling roadmap to protect and restore Britain’s natural habitats. The RSPB, NT and WWF have committed to integrating its recommendations into their work.
This plan is important to protect the unique and diverse nature that Britain has been blessed with. We’re at a critical point in our planet's history. Both the natural world and our climate are in crisis and Britain’s wildlife is under considerable threat. Millions of birds are gone from our skies, nearly all our wildflower meadows are lost, and a quarter of all our mammals are at risk of extinction. But it’s not too late if we act now.
The People’s Plan recommends greater environmental protections, more robust support for farmers who are contributing to nature's recovery, and the implementation of business transition plans that minimise the private sector’s impact on the environment. The public mandate for these actions is strong, and the time for decisive action is now.
This plan deserves political attention. Therefore, as requested by the RSPB, I have written to my MP (Dr Neil Hudson, Conservative) to ask him to support this plan in Parliament and within his party. All parties should respond to this call to action and integrate its recommendations into their plans to protect and restore Britain’s natural environment, following the example set by leading British non-governmental organisations.
Dr Hudson has responded very promptly as follows:
“I would like to assure you that I fully recognise that biodiversity loss is a global problem that needs a global solution. I welcome that at COP15, the UN biodiversity summit held in Canada, a new deal to protect nature was agreed by almost 200 countries. The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) includes a commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to protect 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030. The GBF also commits to ending human-induced extinctions of known threatened species.
“The UK played a leading role in the negotiations, building on the UK’s COP and G7 presidencies, including the Leaders Pledge for Nature. This commits world leaders to taking action to drive sustainable food production, end the illegal wildlife trade and tackle climate change. At the recent meeting of Climate and Environment Ministers of the G7, members committed to the swift implementation of the GBF, as well as international climate finance to nature-based solutions.
“Domestically, the Environment Act 2021 sets a legally binding target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. Biodiversity net gain and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will create and restore rich habitats that enable wildlife to recover and thrive, while conservation covenants will help secure habitat for the long-term.
“Regarding farming, the Sustainable Farming Incentive will provide farmers with a range of paid actions to manage hedgerows for wildlife, plant nectar-rich wildflowers and manage crop pests without the use of insecticides. These incentives will make food production more resilient and efficient over the longer term while contributing towards the UK’s environmental goals on carbon, biodiversity, water quality and net zero.
“Further, Countryside Stewardship Plus will reward farmers for taking coordinated action, working with neighbouring farms and landowners to support climate and nature aims. It will deliver environmental ambitions including managing floodplain meadows to reduce flood risk and improve biodiversity, restoring and maintaining peatland for carbon capture and storage, and enhancing and managing woodland to mitigate against drought.”
Unfortunately, this response refers to what is already being done, that many would regard as being insufficient, and does not address the recommendations of the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’ or propose any further actions. I therefore find it a bit disappointing.
The ‘People's Plan for Nature’ has many specific recommendations aimed at national government; local government; businesses (including food businesses); charities & non-governmental organisations; and individuals & communities. For example, those that are directed at local government include to:
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