British government is failing on wildlife conservation and misleading the public

NEWS AND ANALYSIS: The RSPB in the UK has criticised the British government for missing wildlife conservation targets and misleading the public in their efforts concerning conservation. They argue that Britain has lost a decade in terms of wildlife conservation.

Britain agreed certain targets in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and they have failed in those targets. During a conference in Japan in 2010, Aichi targets were adopted by the UK government. These targets included: reducing the rate of habitat loss such as loss of forests by at least 50%, cutting back on overfishing, engaging in agriculture and aquaculture in a sustainable manner, reducing pollution including the excessive use of fertiliser and preventing invasive species and minimising ocean acidification.

Redshank declining in parts of the Wash in England
Redshank declining in parts of the Wash in England but this has been overlooked by Natural England it is alleged. Photo taken by Andreas Trepte and published on Wikipedia. Published her under creative commons license.

The RSPB claimed that the government has been disingenuous in their claim that they’re making progress in meeting these targets.

The government claims that their conservation budgets are climbing but in fact they were cut by almost 30% during the six years between 2012 and 2018, the RSPB say.

Further, this well known bird charity say that the government is providing misleading figures on the amount of land where wildlife is protected in addition to further misleading data on how well or badly vulnerable species are doing in the UK.

They believe that the British government does not have the right to lecture other countries to increase conservation efforts under the circumstances.

The government has no right to be regarded as a world leader in conservation because they lack credibility. Further, the international community has failed to halt a decline in the environment according to a UN assessment.

Forty percent of UK species have been in decline since 1970 and there are no signs of improvement, while more than 1,250 species are threatened with extinction in Britain. The Farmland Bird Index has declined by more than 50% in 50 years.

Hedgehog numbers have halved in 20 years according to a 2018 report entitled State of British Hedgehogs. Britain is underperforming with respect to wildlife conservation.

The country is not meeting or exceeding the Aichi targets. The targets included an agreement to “effectively manage” at a minimum 17% of the country’s land and 10% of coastal and marine areas for wildlife. The RSPB say that 5% of land is protected while the government argues that 28% is protected.

The discrepancy appears to be due to areas of outstanding natural beauty being counted towards the target but the RSPB say that these areas are not effectively managed. For example, about 50% of persecutions of raptor birds have occurred in these areas. Also monitoring is failing by Natural England. For example, the reshank in the Wash is declining in some areas and this has been overlooked by Natural England.

Protected areas are now worse than they were in 2010 according to the RSPB. They state that the figures indicate that there has been a 29% decline in public sector spending on biodiversity over the period 2013 to 2018, from £641 million to £456 million.

The government lacks commitment and wildlife conservation, is the conclusion. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs disagree and say that they are committed to a greener future and that the government is leading the world by “setting ambitious goals for nature and biodiversity in our landmark Environment Bill…..”

Source: The Times.

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