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  6. Habitat strategy unveiled by Government

Habitat strategy unveiled by Government

A blueprint to improve and link up the habitats of some of England’s most iconic wildlife has been published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The document, ‘Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services’, aims to halt the loss of England’s habitats and species.

The strategy’s goals include proposals to create better habitats so that by 2020 some 90 per cent of priority habitats will be in a favourable or recovering condition with a minimum of 50 per cent of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in favourable condition.

Also on the agenda are plans for an extra 200,000 hectares of priority habitats and a target that a minimum of 15 per cent of very poor wildlife sites will be restored to help adapt for and mitigate against climate change.

Ministers also want to see least 17 per cent of land and inland waters improved through more effective and integrated management including the creation of Nature Improvement Areas.

Defra has stressed that a greater proportion of existing woodlands will be brought under sustainable management and the area of woodland in England will be expanded.

The department said the reform of the planning system will ensure “a strategic approach to planning for nature. We will retain the protection and improvement of the natural environment as core objectives of the planning system. We will pilot biodiversity offsetting, to assess its potential to deliver planning policy more effectively.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “This strategy sets out how we will stop the loss of species and habitats, so that this generation can be the first to leave our natural environment in a better state than they found it.”

However, conservation groups have warned that the strategy won’t do enough to save wildlife species threatened with extinction.

A coalition of groups - Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB – has voiced concern that despite the good intentions the strategy will fail unless it is followed up with an ambitious and urgent programme of action for the recovery of threatened species.

Download Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services.


Roger Milne

25 August 2011