Link's Wildlife Crime and Trade Group campaigned to secure funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit which was under threat of closure. The Chair of the Group wrote a blog outlining concerns over funding, noting the significant work they undertake. This blog was shared widely across social media and Link was quoted alongside member organisations in two national news articles. In March 2016 it was announced that the Unit’s funding was secured for four years, with extra funding to combat cybercrime, an increasing pathway for the illegal trade of fauna and flora, also discussed in a blog from one of Link’s members.
Launched in 2015, Farming Fit for the Future and Water Matters create powerful visions for farming and our water, at a time when action needs to be taken to reverse the decline in our natural environment. The overarching themes addressed in Water Matters and Farming fit for the Future include pollution, climate change, long-term planning, and restoring wildlife and the countryside.
Working with sister Links in the devolved countries, Link positioned itself so that it could influence the European Commission’s current evaluation of the Habitats and Birds Directives. The Directives are under threat from politicians who want to use the review to weaken legislation protecting key habitats and species in the UK.
Launched in 2014, the Charter was subsequently signed by 152 MPs and 22 Peers. During a Link parliamentary reception in November 2014, speakers from the main political parties thanked Link for bringing key people together on such an important issue and all endorsed the Charter, promising to complete the network during the next Parliament.
The Blueprint for water coalition published its follow up report ‘Dredging up Trouble’. Government is now aware that dredging is not a holistic solution to stopping future flooding.
Link’s intervention was precipitated by lobbying activities by farming unions, which threatened to weaken environmental protection elements of scheme.
Two Link representatives were included in the UK Government’s delegation and, working closely with Defra officials, the Defra Minister and the IWC Commissioner prior to the meeting, Link contributed to a UK-led welfare initiative and action plan agreed by the Commission. This significant achievement will ensure that a broad range of animal welfare issues are properly considered by the IWC. Defra Minister, George Eustice, subsequently wrote to Link, saying “I and the Defra officials very much value the expertise you bring to discussions and the support provided to the Defra team.” He also thanked the Link representatives “for your excellent work as part of the UK delegation and the valuable contribution you made to achieving a successful outcome to the meeting”.
As a reflection of its coordinating role, Link now hold quarterly meetings with the Head of the Unit and is an invited member on the CPS’s Community Involvement Panel, which brings together stakeholders to discuss prosecution of wildlife crimes. Link was also successful in persuading the Minister to include cybercrime in its recent review of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES), which delivers the UK’s obligations arising from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In his key note speech, Lord De Mauley, Defra Minister, said of Link: “You have a vital role to play and are potentially the most powerful ally we have to deliver growth while improving the environment.” Feedback from senior civil servants confirmed that Nature Check is a powerful tool in both holding Defra to account and supporting its work by influencing those in wider Government.
Link coordinated a formal response to the Government’s consultation, organised a high level stakeholder workshop, and contributed to a meeting with the then Minister, Richard Benyon MP. Link is advised that a merger was avoided in large part through Link’s lobbying and advocacy work through 2012 and 2013.
Dr Keith Vincent, the lawyer leading the review, said “Wildlife and Countryside Link has been exceptionally useful to the Law Commission in its wildlife law reform project - which was proposed by Defra. In the early stages of the project, Link facilitated meetings allowing the Law Commission to conduct outreach to the wider community of wildlife and environmental stakeholders. During our consultation phase, Link organised meetings and submitted an invaluable submission that we have drawn on in formulating our policy for any future wildlife Bill.”