Nature Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend the Environment Bill to introduce a legally binding target to halt and reverse the decline of nature.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

As a core part of our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, we have amended the Environment Bill to require a new, historic legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 to be set, aiming to halt the decline of nature.

Tackling the long-term decline of nature will be challenging but through this new target we are committing ourselves to that objective. A domestic 2030 species target will not only benefit our species but the actions necessary will also help to drive wider environmental improvements.

Our focus is now on the detailed work to develop a fully evidenced target. We are developing the scientific and economic evidence to underpin this target. The duty to set this target is in addition to the existing requirement to set at least one long-term legally binding biodiversity target. Interventions should not be made, or targets set, in isolation. We are taking a system-based approach to the setting of targets, as far as possible, so that we consider the targets collectively and understand their interdependencies. We will continue to work with stakeholders and independent experts to ensure policy action furthers the objective of halting a decline of species.

We will refine the 2030 species target following the agreement of global targets expected to be agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity's COP15.

The details of the 2030 target will be set in secondary legislation, in the same manner as the other long-term targets. We expect to publish a public consultation in early 2022 on all proposed legally binding targets. This would include a rationale for the proposed targets and a summary of the evidence used to inform targets.

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