13th Oct 2015

Nature conservation organisations call on Government to deliver ambitious vision for nature and people

An ambitious and inspirational long-term plan is needed to save nature and improve our well-being – that is the clear message from the Response for Nature report published today by a coalition of leading conservation organisations.

The Response for Nature report for England, a follow up to the State of Nature report, will be launched by naturalist, writer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall, and 26 conservation organisations at Church House in London this evening (Tuesday, 13 October), while simultaneous events will be held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, to launch reports for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each report makes key recommendations that devolved Government’s must take to help restore nature in the UK.

In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind on the UK. The State of Nature report [2] revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

In his speech at tonight’s London launch Steve Backshall will say: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road.

“Let us be in no doubt that the public is behind us. An independent survey showed that 88 per cent of the UK population believe that biodiversity, the variety of life, is indispensable in the production of our food, fuel and medicine [3].

“Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every department needs to understand that restoring nature will be a key solution to some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic problems. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it.

“To the Government, I say – please read this report, take note and act on its recommendations. Come back with the details of your 25-year plan. People and nature need you to make it a great one.”

To ensure its recovery, nature needs the Government to take a number of actions. The Response for Nature reports outlines a number of common asks across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature:

  • Deliver an inspiring vision for nature – nature needs to be a part of our lives. Government must set a trajectory for nature’s recovery so that, by 2040, we have a country richer in nature and people connect to nature.
  • Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature –our most important laws that safeguard species and special places, the Birds and Habitats Directives, are under threat. We must resist attempts from Europe to weaken our laws and ensure the full implementation of legislation that aims to reduce pressures on nature.
  • Deliver a network of special places for nature on land and at sea – we need special places to be protected and well managed, and linked within a wider landscape with room for people and nature.
  • Recover threatened species targeted through programmes of action – we must halt species extinction, but more than that, we should be restoring priority species to favourable conservation status, where populations recover to a healthy state.
  • Improve the connection of young people to nature for their health and well-being and for nature’s future
  • Provide incentives (or other financial measures) that work for nature – we need to reward those who enhance our natural world, and make those responsible pay when we take more from it than we put back.
  • Support people working together for nature – we all have a part to play in saving nature. Each and every one of us needs to take care about, and take action for, nature – before it’s too late.

Dr Martin Warren, CEO of Butterfly Conservation and a speaker at the Response for Nature England launch, said: “The Response for Nature project is just one example of conservation NGOs working together for wildlife. We will continue to play our part from restoring wild places and mobilising an army of volunteers, to connecting people to nature. But Government has a key role to play too. We welcome the commitment to produce a 25 year plan to restore nature but we need this to be turned into effective action and fast. We need this for nature but also for the health and well-being of the people of this country."

Jim Foster, Conservation Director of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, who will be attending tonight's launch along with ARC CEO Tony Gent, said "The Response for Nature report demonstrates that we need to urgently agree a joint plan of action. ARC is committed to playing a key role, and our track record of collaborative projects shows how this can work wonders for wildlife. Thanks to this approach, for instance, we've restored natterjack toads, sand lizards and pool frogs to the British countryside following their local or even national extinction."

The Response for Nature coalition for England includes the following partners:

  • A Focus on Nature
  • A Rocha
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
  • Bat Conservation Trust
  • Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
  • British Bryological Society
  • British Pteridological Society
  • Buglife
  • Bumblebee Conservation Trust
  • Butterfly Conservation
  • Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  • The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Freshwater Habitats Trust
  • Friends of the Earth
  • The Fungus Conservation Trust
  • John Muir Trust
  • The Mammal Society
  • Marine Conservation Society
  • National Trust
  • People’s Trust for Endangered Species
  • Plantlife
  • RSPB
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation
  • The Wildlife Trusts
  • Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
  • The Woodland Trust
  1. A full copy of the Response for Nature report can be downloaded here
  2. In 2013, 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to produce the State of Nature report, a stock take on all our native wildlife. The report revealed that 60 per cent of species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all species assessed where under threat of disappearing from our shoes altogether. A full copy of the State of Nature report can be found here
  3. European Commission (2013) Flash Eurobarometer 379: Attitudes towards biodiversity. November 2013. Public attitudes and support for nature reflect the range of reasons why nature conservation is important. An independent survey published by the European Commission revealed that 94 per cent of the UK population believe we have a moral obligation to halt the loss of nature, 90 per cent feel that our well-being and quality of life is based on nature and 88 per cent believe that nature is indispensable for the production of goods, such as food, fuel and medicines.