Today, civil society lays down a gauntlet to each of the four UK administrations to encourage them to do more to improve the state of nature. 

We are launching four country Response for Nature reports (pictured) to highlight the priority actions that governments need to take to respond to the parlous state of our wildlife as identified in the State of Nature report.

There will be events in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London (which is where I'll be this evening).  Naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall will be there alongside Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, ready we hope to pick up our Response for Nature gauntlet.  The timing is good.  Tomorrow, Defra starts its consultation on what should be included in its promised 25 year plan for nature.  

This is a big deal...

...nature is amazing: it inspires us, provides us with a multitude of free services and 90% of the UK population feel that our well-being and quality of life is based on nature and biodiversity

...nature is in trouble: 60 % of UK species for which we have data have declines since 1970 and one in ten are at risk of extinction

...the pressures on nature are growing: a growing demand for food, energy and water will put increased pressure on our finite natural resources

...together, we can save nature: we know how to restore wildlife at a landscape scale, we know how to farm and recover wildlife populations, we know how to build houses with nature in mind, we know how to fish sustainably.  We need leadership and support to meet the needs of both humans and nature.  This is why governments have a key role to play alongside businesses and civil society.  Get it right and restoring nature provides a solution to addressing some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic issues.

We’ve worked hard over the past year or so through a coalition of 26 organisations to come up with a ten point action plan which we think will provide governments a robust response for nature commensurate with the scale of the challenge.  You can read our reports here.

In short, we think that any government plan for nature must:

1.         Include an inspiring vision for the natural environment and a sustainable economy

2.         Set Government goals for nature and natural capital

3.         Defend and implement the laws that conserve nature

4.         Deliver an ecological network on land and at sea

5.         Safeguard and restore species

6.         Improve the connection of people to nature, to deliver benefits for health and well-being

7.         Provide smarter financial instruments for nature

8.         Develop greener institutions and embed nature across Government

9.         Set five-year milestones with accountability to Parliament

10.       Support people working together for nature.

There are some big decisions being made over the coming months about public spending, the future of nature laws and development on land and at sea.  These decisions must not erode the basis of nature protection.  We need leadership from the Prime Minister to ensure all Government Departments play their part in enhancing the environment for this and the next generation.

I look forward to hearing government’s preliminary response this evening.