The UK government talks a great talk about protecting our nature and our wildlife but unfortunately, like many things, that is as far as it goes. We have made no inroads in tackling our national crisis over biodiversity during the past decade, in fact we have gone backwards, despite the UK government signing up to a worldwide commitment in 2010 (The Aichi Biodiversity Targets) to not only put an end to the rapid decline but to reverse the trends.
This trend is mirrored across the world. As the well documented rich natural habitats in the Amazon Rainforest are destroyed for development, the very same thing is happening under our very noses. Driven by the motives of profit in the corporate sector and accepted by governments as a means to achieve financial growth. Our natural landscape and wildlife has been forsaken for hundreds of years and seen as an endless resource to be plundered time and time again.
Offsetting is used as an argument to justify the loss of our nature to development but this is shown to rarely work with trees planted and left unmanaged and are lost in a short space of time.
The government’s commitment to protect its biodiversity can be summed up by the fact that they have cut funding by 29% between 2012 and 2017 to just £456 million per year, 0.02% of the UK GDP.
According to State of Nature over 40 percent of the UK’s species are in decline since 1970. So why is this important and why is biodiversity important? Well quite simply we are destroying the Earth’s habitats at such an unsustainable rate that on our current trajectory we are heading towards our own extinction. To use our body as a metaphor, it is like smoking 40 cigarettes a day and knowing full well they will eventually kill us, but ignoring the fact because of the illusion of the perceived benefits we gain. In this case, the addiction on successive governments for endless growth at all costs.
The RSPB, (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) have written a damning report of the government’s lost decade of Biodiversity action. Please do take a look here. They have assessed the UK government’s performance in tackling Biodiversity, which is somewhat worse than that of the government’s own opinion of its own handling since 2010. The government admits to failing to meet 14 of the 20 targets set.
In Oxfordshire you can find more than 200 species as being recognised as a priority for conservation of which 80 are a protected species. Less than 10,000 hectares of the county retain special value for wildlife which makes up 4% of the land mass. These special value areas include beechwoods in the Chilterns, flood meadows along the River Thames and rare fen.
The species of animals in Oxfordshire receiving the strictest protection are bats, dormouse, great crested newt, natterjack toad and the otter. Other species are receiving varying levels of protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act ; including the water vole, common lizard, grass snake, slow worm and roman snail. It is also illegal to take a roman snail or freshwater crayfish. 18 rare plants are also protected within the county.
More information on the Biodiversity in Oxfordshire can be found here, which is written in partnership by: The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC).
In conclusion I believe we need to dramatically push our natural habitat, wildlife and Biodiversity up the county’s priority list and establish Oxfordshire as an example to the world on how to not only halt the decline in Biodiversity, but to be at the forefront of rejuvenating and reinvesting in our local green spaces and to move in history’s eyes as from exploiters to guardians of our land.
If you would like to get involved with a local organisation who is working to restore nature, here is the link to BBOWT our local Wild Life Trust.
In their words ‘Protecting local wildlife’
‘Your local Wildlife Trust has a vision of a wilder Berks, Bucks and Oxon. We’re restoring nature across these beautiful counties and empowering people to connect with their local wildlife’.
‘As we work to manage habitats to tackle the nature and climate crises locally, we provide vital breathing spaces in a crowded world’.
‘Our expert team work with more than 1,700 volunteers to look after 85 nature reserves and four education centres, run hundreds of amazing events, and campaign to make nature’s recovery a reality’.
Personally I think the biggest impact we can have is to say no to the OXCAM ARC.
The biodiversity crisis we are now experiencing across the world is threatening our way of life as much as climate change and something we need to ensure our leaders take extremely seriously.
Biodiversity is essential and can be hard to explain, but broadly speaking it is the variety of plant, animal, fungi and micro-organisms living in a particular habitat and without Biodiversity there is literally no future for life on our planet.
Everything depends on biodiversity, from the food chain to our water supply and the air that we breathe. Biodiversity is threatened all over the world right now because of the human species greed, inaction and lack of care for Mother Earth.
In 2010 the World signed up to global targets to tackle the disastrous impact of Biodiversity loss. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets were agreed by 196 countries and the aim was to save life on our planet and halt the loss by 2020. The UK government says it has failed on 17 of these targets, yet experts believe it is even worse. The RSPB suggest we are even moving backwards in some areas.
The 20 Aichi Biodiversity targets are: Communication and awareness, biodiversity values into national plans, eliminate harmful subsidies, sustainable production and consumption, halve rate of habitat loss and degradation, sustainable fish stocks, tackle pollution, invasive alien species, coral reefs, effective protected areas, 17% land and 10% sea, species extinctions and populations, genetic diversity, ecosystem services, carbon stocks, 15% restoration and resilience, Nagoya Protocol, national biodiversity strategy, indigenous people and local communities, knowledge and technology, mobilise financial resources. The RSPB’s (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) own assessment, which can be found here, suggests the UK only met 1 target in the National Biodiversity Strategy.
According to the report, failures include not enough money available for nature conservation, and not enough land being managed for nature as well as declining populations of wildlife. In fact funding for wildlife and the environment has decreased over the period by as much as 30% and as little as 5% of the UK land is being effectively managed for nature.
Over millions of years evolution on planet Earth there has been created a beautiful yet delicate balance within its ecosystems and in just a few short years, the human population has lost touch with its spiritual connection with our habitat and is destroying it at a rate that is beyond belief.
All aspects are under attack for example, an astonishing report in a peer reviewed journal, Plos-One found that in German Nature reserves a decline of more than 75% in all flying insects over the 27 years of the study, which was conducted by researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany.