It feels to me like 2017’s been a year of both progress and uncertainty. There’s been lots of positive talk, but not yet much concrete direction, on what the future for our environment will look like outside the EU. But in the absence of clarity over our environmental future this year, plenty else has ticked steadily on. Here are just some of the positive outcomes from the areas we’ve campaigned on this year:
There’s been good news for some of our most important wildlife sites:
In July new UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove gave his first speech, laying out an ambitious direction for the future. He’s followed it with a slew of environmental announcements, not least the banning of neonicotinoid pesticides in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of the harm they cause. And there will be much more on farming and wildlife. Looking forward, the conversation around the future of our nature is only just starting.
Michael Gove has promised a consultation on an environmental watchdog in the new year, and a series of laws coming forward in 2018 could give our wildlife new support and protection if they move away from damaging farming and fishing policies that have driven wildlife declines. Last month you told us on Twitter what you think about the nature of farming, and back in January over 400 of you told the Welsh Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee what you think the future of farming should look like. In the spring we hope the UK Government will be asking everyone for their views, and constructing new laws that support and reward farmers to restore nature, soil health and water and air quality in the way they grow our food.
We’re also looking forward to the UK Government’s long-waited 25-year Environment Plan for England, setting out how we’ll leave our natural environment to the next generation in a better state than we inherited it. Whatever’s in that plan, we need new nature laws across the UK to make such an ambition reality.
But, whilst we’re still in this year, I’ll be (finally!) catching up on Blue Planet II over Christmas. Many of the episodes featured wildlife found in UK waters, but perhaps not the ones you might expect…
The oceans around our Overseas Territories are home to the largest coral atoll on earth, globally significant populations of albatross, whales and turtles, and as many as a quarter of the penguins on the planet, so protecting these waters can make a big difference for a lot of wildlife. Which is why we’ve teamed up with five other organisations to call for a new, four million square kilometre marine sanctuary around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which would be twice the size of the UK and protect 10% of the world’s penguins. 216 MPs have already signed the pledge to #BacktheBlueBelt – will you call on yours to join them?
Head on over to Global Conservation Director Martin Harper’s blog to read about more conservation highlights this year.
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