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  • This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on biodiversity. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs. For material on genetic modification see agriculture.

    Commons Briefing Papers

    27.10.2016Grouse shooting
    Grouse shooting takes place on moorlands managed for the birds. The Government believes that grouse shooting makes a significant economic, social and environmental contribution. However, others are concerned that grouse moor management is leading to environmental damage and the illegal killing of birds of prey. Two public petitions have been launched on this matter, on both sides of the argument. The Petitions Committee took evidence from witnesses on 18 October 2016, and a debate is scheduled for 31 October 2016.
    04.12.2015Bees and Neonicotinoids
    The use of three neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) have been subject to a precautionary ban in the EU since December 2013 and a review of the scientific evidence underpinning their approvals. This is based on concerns that they are causing sub-lethal, harmful impacts on bees. In July 2015, the UK Government granted an emergency authorisation for the use of restricted neonicotinoids on oil seed rape seeds after an application from the National Farmers' Union. This applies for a time-limited period in four English counties and does not affect the overall ban. A similar application for an emergency authorisation for 2016 has been rejected.
    17.07.2015Marine Conservation Zones in England
    Marine Conservation Zones are being introduced to protect nationally important marine environments. 127 sites were put forward by regional stakeholder groups, and the Government designated 27 sites in 2013. The Government consulted on a second tranche of MCZs early in 2015. It is expected that the Government will announce a third tranche of candidate MCZ sites in 2016.
    23.01.2015Infrastructure Bill: Invasive species
    The Infrasctructure Bill 2014-15 contains new measures to control invasive non-native species. This paper provides an overview of debate on these parts of the Bill for the Commons' Report Stage.
    18.12.2014Septic tanks: new regulations
    This note explains the legislation relating to septic tanks in England.
    01.12.2014The Forestry Commission and the sale of public forests in England
    This note sets out information on the sale of public forests managed by the Forestry Commission
    20.04.2012The Chagos Islanders
    This note provides brief background about the situation of the Chagos Islanders, paying particular attention to the legal dispute over whether they have the right of return and the recent establishment of a Marine Protection Area around the British Indian Ocean Territory (with the exception of Diego Garcia). The note is not comprehensive in its coverage and will not be automatically updated.
    This note introduces issues surrounding biofuel policy in the UK and EU.
    17.03.2011Wreck Removal Convention Bill 2010-11
    This note briefly describes the Wreck Removal Convention Bill 2010-11; a Private Members' Bill sponsored by Dr Th&eacuterèse Coffey MP. The Bill provides measures to enable the United Kingdom to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Removal of Wrecks. It would insert new sections and a Schedule into the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
    01.07.2010Marine litter: 'continents' of rubbish
    A large amount of plastic is accumulating in large areas of the sea. These areas have been dubbed 'great garbage patches' or 'plastic continents'. The long term environmental impacts of marine plastic pollution are unknown. There are concerns that it may lead to chemical contaminants entering the food chain, although more research is required.


    29.09.2016Rewilding and Ecosystem Services
    This POSTnote explores the consequences of increasing the role of natural processes within landscapes. Evidence from the UK and abroad suggests that rewilding can benefit both wildlife and local people, but animal reintroductions could adversely affect some land-users.
    25.09.2015Deep Sea Mining
    In March 2013, the Prime Minister said that deep-sea mining could be worth 40bn to the UK over the next 30 years. This briefing summarises the framework governing activity in international waters. It also describes the mineral deposit types being considered and the proposed extraction methods, potential environmental effects and mitigation options.
    24.08.2015Securing UK Soil Health
    2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils. Soils underpin the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are subject to pressures from population growth and climate change. In England & Wales, soil degradation costs around 1bn per year. This POSTnote outlines the evidence for measures that sustain soils and existing policies affecting soil health.
    26.03.2015Biodiversity Auditing
    Biodiversity supports the ecosystem services humans rely on for well-being and economic resources. Areas that have had an audit can make more effective use of ecological data to meet planning and conservation objectives for biodiversity. This POSTnote summarises the data sources used and the advantages of the audit approach for addressing biodiversity loss.
    12.08.2014Environmental Citizen Science
    Environmental citizen science traditionally involves members of the public submitting sightings of wildlife to NGOs or records centres, but emerging technologies have recently broadened its use to all kinds of environmental data. This POSTnote summarises different types of citizen science projects, policy-relevant applications and the benefits and challenges of volunteer collected data.
    18.06.2014Ancient Woodland
    Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable features of our landscapes that can be high in biodiversity or cultural value. This POSTnote summarises the challenges of conserving the biodiversity and cultural heritage of these sites to provide social and economic benefits, while still meeting the development needs of society.

    Select Committee Reports

    10.02.2009Halting biodiversity loss.
    Government response. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Environmental Audit Select Committee report [Commons]

    Early Day Motions

    That this House looks forward to the forthcoming publication of a Natural Environment White Paper; notes that this is the first White Paper of its kind in 20 years; recognises that ...
    That this House is dismayed that 18 species of Britain's mammals, almost a third of the total, are now listed as endangered; congratulates the People's Trust for Endangered Species ...
    That this House welcomes and supports National Science and Engineering Week, 12 to 21 March 2010 and the What on Earth nature-spotting project to highlight biodiversity in the UK; calls ...
    That this House notes that global livestock and animal feed production contributes to 18 per cent. of global greenhouse gas emissions and is currently the most significant driver of ...
    That this House is dismayed that 18 species of Britain's mammals, almost a third of the total, are now listed as endangered; congratulates The People's Trust for Endangered Species ...


    • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
    • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
    • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
    • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses