eac 290408

29 April 2008


Halting UK biodiversity loss

The UK and EU is committed to halting domestic biodiversity loss by 2010. This key international target was agreed in 2002 as part of a worldwide commitment to addressing the catastrophic biodiversity loss that is currently taking place. Across the globe, some 12% of birds, 23% of mammals and 32% of amphibians are threatened with extinction, and trends indicate that the situation is getting worse.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link warned last year that the UK was on course to miss its own biodiversity target, and that 38% of target habitats and 27% of target species were still in decline. The RSPB has calculated that there is at least a £300 million per annum spending shortfall for biodiversity protection. This will have implications for our ability to protect biodiversity now and into the future. The Environmental Audit Committee also found in a report last year that the Government is failing to provide adequate support and funding for biodiversity protection in the UK Overseas Territories, where some 240 species are at risk of extinction.

The Environmental Audit Committee today announced an Inquiry t0 assess: the Government's progress towards its 2010 biodiversity target; the causes of biodiversity loss in the UK; and whether additional responses might be required. The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on these issues. Some specific subjects on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant:

Policy and progress

1. Is the Government on course to meet its 2010 biodiversity target?

2. How effective is the biodiversity monitoring and reporting process? Are the biodiversity indicators meaningful? Is there adequate data upon which to define targets and to assess progress?

3. Are the policy and institutional frameworks effective at protecting biodiversity? Is biodiversity protection addressed effectively at local and regional levels? How successful has the UK Biodiversity Action Plan been? Does Conserving biodiversity - the UK approach address the need to have a joined-up approach to biodiversity protection with the devolved administrations?

4. How well is biodiversity protection incorporated into the policy-making process? How well will the Ecosystem Approach Action Plan address this issue? Has there been enough progress in ensuring that the value of ecosystem services are reflected in decision-making?

Key threats

5. What are the key drivers of biodiversity loss in the UK, and is the Government addressing them?

6. Will the Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy prove effective? Is there adequate regulation and resources to prevent further invasions and to undertake eradication programmes?

7. What impact will climate change have on UK biodiversity? How might the impacts of climate change be reduced? How can potential conflict between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and biodiversity protection be effectively managed?

8. Does planning policy adequately protect biodiversity? Are effective measures in place to ensure that Government plans for housing growth (including eco-towns) enhance rather than damage biodiversity? Should there be a review of greenbelt policy, and what might the consequences be for biodiversity? Do guidelines encouraging development on brownfield sites risk damaging biodiversity?


9. Are there adequate resources for biodiversity protection and enhancement? Has the Government addressed the need to provide additional support for biodiversity protection in the UK Overseas Territories?

Protected areas

10. Is the UK protected area network up to the job of maintaining biodiversity, now and into the future? Are arrangements to protect sites effective? Is more work needed to reduce habitat fragmentation and to link up those semi-natural habitat areas that remain?

The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines set out below by 2 June 2008. Evidence sessions are likely to take place on 17 June, 24 June and 1 July 2008.

Please note

Each submission should: be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere; aim to be no more than 3,000 words in length; begin with a short summary in bullet point form; have numbered paragraphs; and be in Word format with as little use of colour/logos as possible. A copy of the submission should be sent by email to eacom@parliament.uk marked 'Protecting biodiversity in a changing Britain' Inquiry. For data protection purposes, it would be helpful, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm.

Further Information

1. Specific Committee Information: Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

2. Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, 020 7219 0718 or via email: kibbyl@parliament.uk

3. Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk