NbSI Director Nathalie Seddon provided extensive evidence to the recent House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report ‘Biodiversity in the UK: bloom or bust?’. The report urged the Government to conserve and restore UK biodiversity and ecosystems amid grave concern that of the G7 countries, the UK has the lowest level of biodiversity remaining.
The EAC found that existing Government policy and targets were inadequate to address plummeting biodiversity loss, with neglect of nature protection measures, and inconsistent policy across Government. With a lack of clear statutory targets, the 25 Year Environment Plan does not provide sufficient direction to improve the environment within a generation.
The recent biodiversity net gain policy requires improvement to avoid penalising rewilding and letting valuable wildlife habitat be logged as ‘degraded’ land. Effective mechanisms to halt biodiversity decline are also held back by the inconsistency of data systems and inadequate monitoring, as well as a lack of ecologist expertise in the heart of Government and in local authorities. This is worsened by funding cuts, with an increase in funding recommended for Natural England to enable them to undertake the scale of the tasks needed to protect nature.
Measures recommended also include establishing a natural capital baseline to measure progress against environmental goals, mandatory disclosure of nature-related financial risks, a move beyond GDP as the primary measure of economic activity, and a new fiscal rule to balance our demands on nature with nature’s supply.
Overall, the EAC found that the collapse in biodiversity was not being treated with the same urgency and ambition as climate change, and must be raised up the political agenda and factored into decision-making across the public and private sector. Currently, it is not being treated with the same urgency and ambition as climate change, despite being just as crucial for a sustainable future.