Protecting Nature After Brexit

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Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has put pen to paper in a letter to MIchael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

This joint letter to Mr Gove was also signed by Seb Dance MEP, Keith Taylor MEP and Julie Girling MEP.  Together, these MEPs form a cross-party group of UK MEPs who sit on the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

The letter follows the successful vote on November 15th in Strasbourg on the EU Parliamentary Motion calling for EU governments and the Commission to properly fund Natura 2000 sites which are vital to the protection of European nature and biodiversity.

The letter says:

While the European Parliament welcomes the fact the Commission is taking steps in the right direction, the Motion also states our concerns that the 2020 targets for biodiversity will not be met “without immediate, substantial and additional efforts”. The Parliament has also noted that the 2010 targets were not met and that the Commission has not commenced work on a plan for post-2020.

The loss of biodiversity is a real concern: not only do we owe it to future generations to protect flora and fauna, we must also recognise the impact the loss of biodiversity has on ecosystems and human life and ensure our legislative priorities reflect this.

The planetary boundaries framework states that losing more than 10% of the biodiversity in an area places the local ecosystem at risk. And yet a concerning 2016 report states that 58% of the world’s land coverage already falls below this safe level. They find that the global average of biodiversity has dropped to 85% of that of unaffected ecosystems.

One way the EU seeks to address the issue is through the Natura 2000 scheme, which costs €5.8 billion but is estimated to yield benefits of €200-300 billion, protects over 18 % of the EU’s land area and almost 6 % of its marine territory, and it is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world.

While it is clear to us the EU has found ensuring the Birds and Habitats Directives are implemented and biodiversity targets are met challenging, it is also clear that the loss of biodiversity can only be tackled by working with our neighbours at a supranational level.

With this in mind we have three questions:

  • What funding does the UK Government currently receive from the Natura 2000 scheme;
  • Will this funding be matched by the government after an exit from the European Union;
  • What preparatory work has the UK government been doing to ensure there are mechanisms in place
    for continued collaboration in tackling the loss of biodiversity after we exit the European Union.

The issue of the loss of biodiversity cannot be pushed to the bottom of the pile by an ever-increasingly complex Brexit negotiation process.

We look forward to your response answering our questions above.


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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.

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