Walk This Way – Government Pledge to Protect 30% of UK Land by 2030
On 28th September 2020 top leaders endorsed the goal to protect 30% of planet earth by 2030. This science-based target was endorsed by P.M. Boris Johnson, U.N. Secretary-General, Canadian Government, HRH Prince of Wales, and 65 other leaders from across the world.
Our P.M. stated
“WE MUST TURN THESE WORDS INTO ACTION AND USE THEM TO BUILD MOMENTUM, TO AGREE TO AMBITIOUS GOALS AND TARGETS. WE MUST ACT NOW – RIGHT NOW. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DITHER AND DELAY BECAUSE BIODIVERSITY LOSS IS HAPPENING TODAY AND IT IS HAPPENING AT A FRIGHTENING RATE. LEFT UNCHECKED, THE CONSEQUENCES WILL BE CATASTROPHIC FOR US ALL.”
This and other supporting statements from world leaders have been presented at The Summit on Biodiversity convened by the President of the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 30th September 2020. Proposals accepted at the General Assembly will be presented at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the 2021 Convention on Biological Diversity meeting to be held in Kunming, China.
What are the expected changes in land use for G.B. over the next 10 years?
In England, where 26% of land is already protected, the government said an extra 4,000km.² would be safeguarded. This represents an area equivalent to the County of Somerset. However, E.J. Milner-Gulland, professor of biodiversity at the University of Oxford said: “It’s great to get another 4%, but that, in itself, is not going to be a transformative thing in this country – and particularly if there’s no funding.”
The Wildlife Trusts are calling for the creation of new areas of protected “wild belt” across the English countryside and in towns as part of the Government’s planning changes to help nature recover, by creating “stepping stones” for species to migrate across the landscape. Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “What is critical is making space for nature close to where people live and we need to protect them in the long term to allow nature to recover.” He warned that many National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were “severely depleted of wildlife because of over-grazing, poor management or intensive agricultural practices”. “This wild belt could be a roadside embankment, a river valley or somewhere which is important to local people. So, we take a piece of land which is not much good in terms of biodiversity and give it wild belt status and manage it to put nature into recovery. “This is our only hope. We have to help nature recover rather than just talking about slowing its decline.”
Populations of the UK’s most important species have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970. In September 2020 the RSPB highlighted how too little land was managed for nature in the UK, and said the government had failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets agreed 10 years ago. In the past decade, funding for UK wildlife and the environment has dropped by 30% – the equivalent of £250m. This means habitats are not being created, protected, or monitored sufficiently, the report says. On paper, the UK is protecting 28% of land and 24% of the sea but in practice, a lot of protected land, such as national parks and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), are not being properly managed.
The Nature Recovery Network Delivery Partnership (NDP) is being launched on 5th November 2020 as a ground-breaking collaboration of organisations and sectors that will deliver for nature and will spearhead the spirit of collaboration needed to deliver the NRN.
Photo: John Strutt Charity Foundation