Conservation bodies call on Prime Minister to protect nature


A major new campaign backed by more than 50 nature conservation organisations has just been launched.

Organised by Wildlife and Countryside Link, the campaign started on 1 March with an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The letter was signed by more than 50 environmental bodies, including the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace UK and Wild Justice. It was also supported by 39 individuals ranging from well-known conservation writers and broadcasters such as Chris Packham, George Monbiot and Stephen Moss to the Prime Minister's father, Stanley Johnson.

More than 50 nature conservation organisations have come together to support the State of Nature campaign.
More than 50 nature conservation organisations have come together to support the State of Nature campaign.

Boris Johnson has called on world leaders to turn around nature's decline by 2030. However, there is no commitment in law to do the same in the UK, the coalition stated. The project is asking Johnson to introduce an amendment to the much-delayed Environment Bill to set a legally binding target to reverse the loss of nature in England by 2030. The group said: "This is a once in a generation chance to get legally binding protections for nature."

Currently, targets in the Environment Bill don’t guarantee action for nature in England until almost 2038. Experts are warning that the Bill will fail to halt the decline of wildlife and the environment unless it includes a legally binding nature-recovery target.

Nature is in trouble in the UK. The 2019 State of Nature report showed that 41% of our wildlife is in long-term decline. One in four British mammal species face extinction, we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows, while none of our rivers and lakes are classed as healthy.

Chris Packham CBE, TV presenter, photographer and naturalist, commented: "Last year, the world spectacularly failed to meet any of our United Nations targets to protect nature. That was a disaster for wildlife, for the health of the planet, and for our own health and wellbeing.

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"The ambition was laudable, but the reality was deplorable – and that comes down to inaction by individual countries. Now we have a chance to turn things round, with action to finally stop the destruction of wildlife by 2030. But the only way to guarantee the action our natural world needs is to put our promise to stop nature’s decline into law."

The Environment Bill, which has been delayed in Parliament for a third time, is expected to begin progress again through the House of Lords in May. The coalition is urging the Prime Minister to support a 'State of Nature Amendment' to the Bill which would set a legally binding target to halt and begin to reverse the decline in the state of nature in England by 2030 and regulations for how the target will be met. A legally binding target means the government must achieve the target or could face legal action.

The organisation is also asking the public to get involved. You can show your support for nature and help persuade the Prime Minister to put this vital wildlife protection into law by signing the petition calling for a better ‘State of Nature’.

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB, said: "The situation is incredibly urgent. Nature in the UK is in freefall – we are losing species and the habitat they need every year. We also know that a restored and healthy natural world underpins a resilient economy, something we need as we recover from a disease generated through our appalling treatment of the natural world. Actions not just words are now required.

"Ten years ago, a promise was made to 'improve the natural world within a generation' but the world has missed almost all its pledges. It's clear that promises are simply not enough. The Environment Bill must commit us to tacking the nature crisis on our own doorstep, with stronger and binding legal targets to ensure we keep and deliver on our promises and a new Office for Environmental Protection with the teeth to help make sure that happens. In 10 years' time we have to be able to look back at this moment and know it was the point when we genuinely committed to revive our world."