A guest blog by Joanne Sherwood, Director RSPB NI.

The Prime Minister’s ambitious announcement to protect 30% of UK land by 2030 will require a significant shift in approach by the NI Executive if we want to restore the abundance and diversity of our local wildlife.

Lapwing. Photo credit Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Lapwing. Photo credit Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com) 

The Prime Minister promised to work with the devolved countries of the UK to meet this target, but in Northern Ireland existing designated sites for nature only comprise approximately 11% of land. While we acknowledge that the 30% commitment shows ambition towards addressing the nature and climate crises across the UK, it is evident that targets on paper are not enough. It’s time for new environmental laws in Northern Ireland, backed up by action and a cross-departmental, long term and well-funded approach to turn things around.

Mounting evidence for the need to make urgent progress was published last week by the Natural History Museum, in collaboration with the RSPB, revealing that Northern Ireland is languishing in 229th place out of 240 countries for the amount of nature it has left.

This alarming news follows our recent analysis of the NI Biodiversity Strategy that shows the Executive is failing on more than 80% of its targets to reverse biodiversity loss in Northern Ireland. Today, only 14% of Northern Ireland’s designated sites and 4.5% of protected sea areas are well managed; one in 10 species are in decline and water quality is getting worse. But even though these findings make for difficult reading, we believe that it’s not too late to turn the tide and make this decade count in the fight to save nature in Northern Ireland.

We have launched the Revive Our World campaign to call for the transformative changes that can bring nature back from the brink. Since strategies and statements are clearly failing, there must be targets written in law to secure nature’s recovery and tackle the climate emergency, along with financial investment to fund a green economic recovery from COVID-19.

Revive Our World

The Executive has an opportunity - and we believe a duty - to demonstrate that more will be done to secure a nature-rich, climate-safe future for the people of Northern Ireland. We are calling on the Executive to act now for nature.

By signing our petition to Revive Our World, you can show that you expect the NI Executive to turn commitments into action too.