Nature check: Leading environment groups warn Government over failing nature record

Posted on 14th October 2011

The Government is failing to deliver on its wildlife and landscape promises, according to a report compiled by 29 of the UK’s leading environmental groups.

The study highlights some of the most controversial environmental issues of the year – including the proposed reform of the planning system, a planned cull of badgers and the public debate on the future of UK forestry.

The Nature Check report, published by the umbrella body Wildlife and Countryside Link, assesses the Government’s progress on the 16 commitments it has made to the natural environment using a traffic light rating system.

Just two of the promises have been fully met, and have been given a green seal of approval. Seven have received an amber rating, meaning not enough progress has been made, and a further seven have been given the red card by environmental experts.

The report shows the Government’s commitments to wildlife overseas are being met – with green lights given for new legislation opposing ivory sales and commercial whaling. However with a new proposed planning system placing economic needs above environmental ones, confusion over the future of nationally owned forests, and a badly thought through plan for tackling bovine TB – it is the domestic issues that ministers are falling down on most.

Other failing policy areas include lack of controls to prevent inappropriate development in areas of flood risk and a failure to consider seabirds and other mobile species when creating the new network of Marine Conservation Zones around our coasts.

Neil Sinden, Policy and Campaigns Director for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The Government’s aspires to be the greenest government ever, but it will not achieve this admirable ambition with a ‘business as usual’ approach to economic growth.

Will CAP reform help or hinder nature’s recovery ?

Posted on 12th October 2011

Short-term economic decisions have long-term effects for wildlife

A forthcoming announcement about the Common Agricultural Policy has the potential to significantly help or hinder nature’s recovery in the UK, according to The Wildlife Trusts.

On Wednesday (12 Oct) the European Commission will announce plans to shape the way farmland is managed between 2014-2020, through proposals to change the Common Agricultural Policy.

The current Common Agricultural Policy is in need of fundamental reform. The Wildlife Trusts want to see an increased percentage of the EU agriculture budget spent on delivering a range of robust environmental measures, including protection for wildlife-rich grasslands and restoration of fragmented habitats. New environmental measures should reflect and recognise that healthy ecosystems are a vital element of sustainable societies and must be better integrated with other major policies, such as the Water Framework Directive.

As agriculture accounts for more than 75% of land use in the UK its future is critical to The Wildlife Trusts’ ambition to deliver A Living Landscape.

The conservation organisation is voicing concerns that proposed changes may fail to properly reward farmers for taking measures to protect and restore the natural environment. In doing so they could compromise the future of sustainable and wildlife-friendly farming systems.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We believe the Common Agricultural Policy should underpin sustainable food production and a healthy Living Landscape. We need continued investment in agri-environment schemes. We want to see Wednesday’s proposals help, not hinder, nature’s recovery. It is of critical concern. A healthy natural environment is an essential part of sustainable farming systems.”