Biodiversity 2020: a strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services
A new biodiversity strategy for England sets the strategic direction for biodiversity policy for the next decade on land and at sea.
The strategy builds on the Natural Environment White Paper, which highlighted the need to properly value nature, following the strong economic arguments for safeguarding and enhancing the natural environment presented in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.
Two further recent studies examine in more detail the value of particular aspects of the natural environment: the wildlife covered by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – see our article Valuing the UK’s wildlife and habitats.
Biodiversity 2020: a strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services sets out the Government’s ambition to halt overall loss of England’s biodiversity by 2020, and in the longer term to move progressively from a position of net biodiversity loss to net gain.
The strategy will guide conservation efforts in England over the next decade, with the overarching mission:
“To halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.”
The value of biodivserity
The strategy is built on the premise that biodiversity, the variety of all life on Earth, is important both for its own sake and because human survival depends upon it. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) presented a comprehensive account of how the natural world, including its biodiversity, provides us with services that are critical to our wellbeing and economic prosperity.
The NEA also showed that nature is consistently undervalued in decision-making and that many of the services we get from nature are in decline: over 40% of priority habitats and 30% of priority species in the most recent analysis.
Launching Biodiversity 2020, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
“Our wildlife is not only something that we should value because it’s nice to look at. Nature underpins our very existence, giving us clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and healthy food to eat. This strategy sets out how we will stop the loss of species and habitats, so that this generation can be the first to leave our natural environment in a better state than they found it.”
The strategy takes account of the evidence provided by the National Ecosystem Assessment and Making Space for Nature, Professor Sir John Lawton’s review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological networks.
Priorities for action
It proposes four priorities for action to achieve by 2020 stated outcomes of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity on land and at sea, achieving an overall improvement in the status of wildlife, and engaging more people in biodiversity:
- A more integrated large-scale approach to conservation on land and at sea;
- Putting people at the heart of biodiversity policy;
- Reducing environmental pressures;
- Improving our knowledge.
International commitments to biodiversity
The strategy provides a comprehensive picture of how the Government is meeting international and EU commitments, and follows up the global agreement reached at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. Signatories to the historic Nagoya agreement pledged to produce a strategy to tackle wildlife loss in their own country to reduce the loss of species and habitats by 2020. England is one of the first countries in the world to fulfil this commitment.
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said:
“In Nagoya, the global community adopted 20 ambitious Aichi Targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and countries were called upon to translate these into national biodiversity strategies. The UK is one of the first countries to respond, with the National Ecosystem Assessment, the Natural Environment White Paper and now with the updated Biodiversity Strategy for England. I’m very pleased to see that in line with the Aichi Targets, England’s new biodiversity strategy includes clear quantitative targets as well as priority actions to address pressures from agriculture, forestry and fisheries.”
- Biodiversity 2020: a strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services;
- The Natural Environment White Paper, The Natural Choice;
- Natural England: list of species and habitats of principal importance for conserving biodiversity in England;
- Conserving Biodiversity – the UK Approach: shared vision for UK Biodiversity conservation adopted by the devolved administrations and the UK government in 2007.
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