Somerset Wildlife Trust

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A challenge to political parties

 14th Nov 2014

Bluebells WATCH Tom MarshallNature conservation groups challenge political parties: recognise the wider benefits of protecting nature and commit to new legislation.

The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB are calling on all the main political parties to value nature and secure its recovery by committing to a new Nature and Wellbeing Act.

The two leading conservation charities have spent recent months working behind the scenes to pinpoint the ways in which we need to help nature recover.  Both have a deep understanding of why contact with nature is good for us, for our communities and for our economy, and a long track record of trying to turn around nature’s decline.  A major shift in commitment and action is needed to secure nature’s recovery and The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB believe that new legislation is critical to achieving this.

Improvements to people’s health, wellbeing and the economy

The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB are urging all the main political parties to commit to passing a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to help value what nature does for us, for its own sake and also to underpin improvements to people’s health, wellbeing and the economy.  We are delighted that the Liberal Democrats have declared they will commit to a Nature Bill in the party's manifesto.  

Martin Harper is the RSPB's Conservation Director. He said:  “We look forward to seeing the detail of the Lib Dem proposals and we challenge all parties to introduce measures to show how they would restore nature for the next generation.  We need to improve the fortunes of wildlife while increasing the public’s access to nature and better health. This needs new legislation and a clear commitment to better enforce existing wildlife law.”

Paul Wilkinson, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Landscape, said: “Nature underpins our health, wellbeing and economy in many ways, yet society continues to let special wildlife-rich places and much-loved species disappear. This has to change. We must value - and recognise in the decisions we make - what nature provides us for free and we need to plan for its recovery as a matter of urgency. A Nature and Wellbeing Act is an essential way to make this upturn happen and all parties need to rise to the challenge. The Liberal Democrats’ announcement is welcome and raises the environmental bar for all political parties.”

The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB have a long standing commitment to encourage political support for a Nature Bill.  This should include:

•    A long-term commitment to specific targets for nature’s recovery
•    The establishment of the Natural Capital Committee in law, to scrutinise the environmental impact of new laws, and propose new policies for incorporating the value of nature in decision-making
•    An effective mechanism for creating a national ecological network ­ composed of numerous local ecological networks developed locally, but to a high common standard
•    A system to encourage the local support for and targeting of action to recover nationally threatened species
•    Specific targets to ensure that people and especially children are able to connect to nature where they live
•    An amendment to Section 78 of the Education Act to include care for the natural environment in the curriculum.

State of Nature

In May 2013, the publication of the State of Nature report published by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations concluded that UK nature is in trouble.  Scientists working side-by-side from 25 wildlife organisations compiled a stock take of our native species ­ the first of its kind in the UK.  The State of Nature report reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades.  More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether. More here.

Act for Nature

Find out how you can Act for Nature here.


Photograph © Tom Marshall