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New UK Government targets could mean less wildlife for future generations

We’re asking you to take action for nature now.

On Monday 9 May it will be six months since the landmark Environment Act was passed – the first dedicated environmental legislation for nearly 30 years and the first time England has set legally binding targets for nature’s recovery.

It is only now that the details of these targets are being discussed and a consultation is due to close on 27 June* to assess how ambitious these targets will be. It’s crunch time for nature.

Unfortunately, the long-term target currently being proposed for nature’s recovery aims to have just 10% more nature in 2042 than 2030 levels – by which time the state of our natural world is expected to have declined even further.

This could mean that wildlife is less abundant by 2042 than it is now, after another decade of decline, and clearly falls short of the UK Government’s promise to pass on nature in better condition.

UK nature is already in dire straits. This country is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world: 41% of species are in decline and 15% at risk of extinction. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that 97% of lowland meadows – home to wildflowers, mammals and birds – have disappeared, as have 80% of heathlands – and rivers are in deep trouble too.

The Sheffield State of Nature Report highlights local losses including farmland birds and the native white clawed crayfish, plus numerous threats from habitat loss to non-native invasive species. However, it also highlights case studies where local action is helping to stem this loss of nature.

The new target that the UK Government has proposed is too weak and unambitious – England would have even less wildlife in 20 years’ time than the much-depleted state that we have now.

Dr Nicky Rivers, the Trust’s Living Landscape Development Manager said:

“We need to halt the loss of nature and start restoring it now to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation, not allow it to get worse. The current proposals are too little too late and we are urging people to tell the Government this. You can do this by signing our petition calling for stronger legal targets for nature’s recovery.”

Read The Wildlife Trusts’ briefing on the Nature Recovery Green Paper and Environment Act target consultations here.

The Wildlife Trusts have begun a campaign to rally public support for stronger targets to help nature recover here: wildlifetrusts.org/nature-deserves-better

* Update 10 May: The consultation closing date has been amended from 11 May to 27 June following DEFRA announcing an extension to the consultation.