Sunday, 4 May 2014

What do you want for nature conservation from the next government?

I read with interest Mark Avery's column in this months British Wildlife. It outlined a reappraisal of last election manifestos from the big three parties in reference to wildlife conservation. He reiterated his view that all three of the statements made were bland and non-committal. No surprise there. Of the big three Labour doesn't have a great record during their time in office and who can forget that whopper of 'Vote blue go green' that ushered in the current Conservative government.

Mark finished his article with a list of things he would like to see the parties to address in the run up to next years General Election, inspired by this I have created my own list (Some I have borrowed from Mark - they are too good to waste):

Dear Government please implement the following.

  1. Ensure that 80% of SSSI's are in favourable or better condition by 2020
  2. Reduce bTB using scientific advice involving the deployment of vaccines and biosecurity.
  3. Ensure that for a start 25% of all new buildings are built with water recycling facilities and come with renewable energy options such as solar panels/heating or ground source heat pumps.
  4. Ensure that all new housing projects have at least 10-15% of land set aside for wildlife refuges.
  5. To reduce the risk of flooding invest in the reforestation of headwaters and on unprofitable/nonviable farmland beside rivers create wetlands and reedbeds to soak up excess water.
  6. Ideally scrap HS2 and if not to ensure that a wildlife corridor at least as wide is created along its length.
  7. Seriously examine the reintroduction of certain species such a Lynx and Beaver to act as ecosystem engineers in rewilding projects.
  8. Designate all of the 127 marine conservation zones that were proposed/
  9. Take lessons from NGO's and best practice conservation farming to model a better balanced agri-environmental scheme.
  10. Be on track to meet our climate change requirements.
  11. Create a new National Park with in the next 5-10 years and increase the number of SSSI's and LNR's.
  12. All schools should be required to have a designated wildlife area.
  13. Develop the role of the JNCC to act as a liaison to all NGO's to help co-ordinate fundraising, research and work to enable nationwide action.
  14. Ensure biodiversity offsetting does not just become 'greenwash'. Regulate to ensure replacements are like for like and that they are protected from further development.
  15. Place even greater emphasis and incentive to use brownfield sites before greenfield ones.
  16. Develop a new designation of No-build Zones to stop urban sprawl and the conglomeration of towns and villages.
  17. Increase penalties on all aspects of wildlife crime and environmental law.
  18. Untie the hands of English Nature, SNH and CCW and Environment Agency to do their job more independently of central government.
  19. Actually appoint a minister for the environment who has a background or at the very least an interest in the subject.
  20. Lastly and most importantly listen to the scientific advice given by the NGO's and government bodies consulted.