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Thriving ecosystems: Spelman stresses commitment to biodiversity

Addressing Parliament on 27th May, Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asserted the Government’s commitment to biodiversity – the variety of life on earth, encompassing the diversity of species, within species and in the range of ecosystems that support them:

“We are absolutely committed to reversing the trend in the reduction in biodiversity.”

Hogweed and bee

Caroline Spelman visits the Angela Marmont Centre

Ahead of the International Day for Biodiversity on 22nd May (in this International Year of Biodiversity), Caroline Spelman had visited the newly opened Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum.

In her speech at the centre, Caroline Spelman said:

I want to help make our farming and fishing industries, our water and soil and our biodiversity and ecosystems healthier and stronger than they are today. I have been involved in agriculture and the environment for over 25 years.

In that time I’ve learned one thing above all others – the interdependency of our environment, our economy and our society. So we will not be making choices between economic productivity, thriving ecosystems and a healthy environment but choices which create a successful synthesis of all these.

Caroline Spelman at the Angela Marmot Centre

Defra is helping to fund IYB-UK, the UK partnership promoting biodiversity through the International Year of Biodiversity, led by the National History Museum.

UK biodiversity indicators

Defra has also published an updated overview of biodiversity in the UK, reporting on 18 indicators comprising 34 component measures. Over the long-term 10 of these measures have shown deterioration, 9 have shown improvement, 2 have shown little or no overall change, 12 had insufficient data for an assessment, and 1 is provided for contextual information and not assessed.

The indicators were agreed in 2007 by the UK Biodiversity Partnership and include:

  • the population status of key species
  • plant diversity
  • the status of priority species
  • habitats and ecosystems
  • genetic diversity of rare breeds of sheep and cattle
  • protected sites
  • management of woodland agricultural land and fisheries
  • impacts of air pollution and invasive species; expenditure on biodiversity
  • the amount of time given by volunteers to nature conservation activities

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

A major international report on biodiversity – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) – is due to be published in the summer ahead of the global Convention On Biological Diversity conference in Nagoya, Japan in October.

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