Tuesday, 25 June 2013

State of Nature

The front page of today's 'Western Daily Press':

Prime Minister hears West Country's call to save wildlife in 3 easy steps

By Western Daily Press Tuesday, June 25, 2013
By Tristan Cork 

The natural world is vital to the South West's economic, physical and mental wellbeing, says the letter

One hundred leading farmers, conservationists, business leaders, landowners, celebrities and academics from the West Country last night called on the Prime Minister to save the region's wildlife and environment.
In an open letter to David Cameron, they said last week's State of Nature report revealed 'shocking' declines in species and habitats across the south west, and declared it a 'wake-up call' for Government.
The 100 signatories said they all recognised that the West was the one region in Britain that traded on the quality of its natural environment, and the 'wellbeing and prosperity of people and nature are intimately linked'.
The letter demands three easy steps that the Government could take to halt the decline, or at least slow it, to provide what the signatories told Mr Cameron would be a 'step change in the way you approach nature in Government'.
The first is to beef up and speed up plans for a marine conservation area around the West's coastline, to restore the marine environment and 'rebuild' our fishing industry.
The second is that farmers who farm in a way which helps the environment – dubbed 'High Nature Value farming' – are rewarded by the Government, and their approach incorporated into next year's Rural Development Plan.
And the third is that when the Government plans for growth in the economy, it includes investment in 'nature capital', and green growth, using EU cash.
"The natural world is vital to the South West's economic, physical and mental well-being," the letter concludes. "We look for clear impactful leadership from you in the vital task of restoring it."
The 100 signatories come from across the political spectrum and from both sides of what sometimes is a wide divide between agri-business and environmentalism.
It includes all the leading figures from wildlife trusts from Cornwall to Gloucestershire, many other species-specific conservation groups, as well as farmers' leaders, business leaders and environmentalists.
Tony Richardson, the regional director of the RSPB in the south west, explained that all sides now recognise that a declining environment in the West Country is bad for business as well as bad for birds, plants and animals. "The report is a wake-up call," he said. "The declines it describes are truly shocking and we need clear leadership and collective action to start to restore what has been lost.
"Although wildlife is at the heart of this, it's critical to remember that here in the West Country so much of our economy and our quality of life is dependent on the state of our environment. To ignore such a relentless decline is simply wrong. Leaders, from the PM to politicians at all levels and decision-makers in business and the community should act now on this very simple message. Leadership counts."
Somerset farmer Will Barnard said changes to the Common Agricultural Policy were not going to help. "Across the south west, there are thousands of 'high nature value' farms," he said. "But the farm businesses that have to succeed for this to happen, don't do well out of the current Common Agricultural Policy as it works in England. This fails the South West. Our political leaders need to fix this, fast."

This follows on from last month's 'State of Nature' report:
BBC Nature - Wildlife stocktake highlights UK's most threatened species
State of Nature report reveals alarming UK wildlife loss - Blue and Green Tomorrow
State of Nature report Archives - Sustainable Business Toolkit | Sustainable Business Toolkit

Watch David Attenborough launching the report at the Natural History museum last night, with the Minister for Biodiversity and State of Nature partners:

The RSPB: State of Nature

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