Nature Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labour, Slough

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) halt and (b) reverse species decline in the UK.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Domestic biodiversity policy is a devolved matter and the information provided relates to England only, except in relation to our plans internationally.

The UK Government is taking a range of steps to both halt and reverse species decline.

We protect a wide variety of our most threatened native species through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation 2017. These laws make it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or capture listed species, as well as damage or destroy breeding sites.

Our agencies and non-Departmental bodies are working on species recovery projects with landowning and conservation partners, for example on freshwater pearl mussel, short-haired bumblebee and stone curlew.

Our 25 Year Environment Plan steps up our ambition further, setting long-term goals for recovering nature and setting out over 200 actions to enhance the environment including developing a Nature Recovery Network which will provide an expanding and increasingly connected network of places for wildlife to thrive. Our National Pollinator Strategy sets out actions to tackle risks to insect populations, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, pests and disease and climate change. We are supporting science-led restrictions on neonicotinoids, have introduced agri-environment packages to support farmers to put wild flowers back into fields, and continue to tackle threats from invasive species such as the Asian hornet. We have also consulted on an ambitious third tranche of 41 Marine Conservation Zones. Sites to be designated in this tranche will be announced and in place by 7 June.

The ongoing declines in nature are a global problem that need a global solution. That is why the UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing a global post-2020 framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity that is ambitious and transformational. Our Darwin Initiative supports global action by providing grants to protect biodiversity and the natural environment, with £10.6 million awarded in 2018. Defra has contributed almost £6 million over the last three years to Darwin Plus for Overseas Territories’ biodiversity. We continue to support activities to end poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, and have recently passed new legislation to close our domestic ivory market, which will be the toughest ivory ban in Europe and one of the toughest in the world. The UK Government has committed to protecting the ocean and has called for at least 30 per cent of the ocean to be in Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

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