The State of Nature report published today shows that nature is continuing to decline at an alarming rate across the UK, which is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
The State of Nature report shows:
- One in six species is now at risk of being lost from Great Britain. The wildlife studied has, on average, declined by 19% since monitoring began in 1970.
- Most important habitats are in poor condition, though restoration projects have clear benefits for nature, people and adapting to climate change.
Across Dorset, over 400 land and freshwater species recorded in the past are now thought to be extinct, about 1 in 40 species. These include the pearl bordered fritillary butterfly, shrill carder bee and chough. Extinction is only the tip of the iceberg though – some 2,500 species are still here, but are threatened, rare, scarce, or protected.
People’s concern about nature loss, climate change and degraded wild places is a significant voting issue. Dorset Wildlife Trust along with its national federation of 46 Wildlife Trusts across the UK are calling on politicians of all parties to commit to an ambitious programme of policies to support nature’s recovery.
In view of the nature crisis, five priorities have been identified for politicians to consider ahead of the next general election:
Bring back the UK’s lost wildlife
The next UK Government must work across departments to put nature into recovery by protecting and restoring at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030., A nature recovery network should join up wild places, more highly protected marine areas should be introduced and damaging fishing practices – such as bottom trawling – must be banned.
End river pollution and water scarcity
With the UK among the worst countries in Europe for water quality, and only 10% of Dorset’s rivers in good ecological condition, the next Government must sufficiently fund enforcement agencies to do their job. By 2030, nutrient pollution from farming, sewage and development must be halved, there must be stronger protections for chalk streams, a globally rare habitat found in Dorset, and more wetlands should be created to tackle flood and drought.
Fund wildlife-friendly farming
The destruction of nature and impacts of climate change are the biggest threats to food security in the UK. Dorset Wildlife Trust is working closely with many landowners and farmers to adopt nature-friendly management of their land alongside food production. Farmers must be supported and incentivised to help wildlife recover by creating more space for nature, significantly reducing pollution, and halving harm from pesticides by 2030. The budget for nature-friendly farming should increase to at least £4.4 billion a year.
Enable healthy communities
More than a third of the population – nearly 9.5 million households in England – are unable to access green places near their home. Government must support the creation of more greenspace in neighbourhoods, fund and integrate green prescribing into community-based health services and enable all children to access outdoor learning opportunities.
Tackle the climate emergency by protecting and restoring natural habitats
Nature can make a huge contribution to achieving net-zero targets if habitats are restored because peatlands, woodlands, and other wild places store carbon. Additionally, the next UK Government must integrate climate adaptation strategies across all departments, create a nature recovery network to help wildlife adapt to change, protect blue carbon stores from damage, and invest in energy efficiency.
Dorset Wildlife Trust’s conservation director, Imogen Davenport said,
“Dorset is famous for its wildlife and wild places from the migrating birds in Poole Harbour and our precious marine habitats to the ancient woodland and traditional wildflower meadows at the Kingcombe National Nature Reserve. These wonderful places and wildlife are under threat from pollution, habitat loss and our changing climate. We urgently need more wilder and more natural areas to help wildlife recover, enable nature to adapt to climate change and create healthier, happier, and more prosperous communities.”
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“The State of Nature report is a stark reminder that politicians must not let nature drop down the agenda – there is far too much at stake. We desperately need better policies that fund nature-friendly farming properly, end the poisoning of lakes and rivers, and create larger wild and more natural areas – including in towns and cities.
“This next parliament is the most important in my lifetime for nature and climate action. The clock is ticking towards the 2030 deadline by which point the UK Government has committed to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature and to halve the risks posed by pesticides. Nature recovery is fundamental to tackling climate change and improving people’s lives – history will not be kind to politicians that ignore this truth.”
Further details of the top five priorities highlighted above are available here: https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-do/act-for-nature/our-priorities-next-uk-government