Belinda Gordon, Head of Government and Rural Affairs at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: ‘The introduction of a 25-year Environment Plan is a fantastic commitment to long-term investment in the health, protection and enhancement of our countryside. We are delighted to see the Government taking such measures. However, despite the Plan’s best intentions, we are concerned that the Plan does not adequately address the growing development pressures on England’s countryside. England’s land is a finite resource – it is vital that we ensure we have planning systems that ensure the best use of land, while protecting our landscape and the wider natural environment.’
Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife said: ‘The destruction of 97% of wildflower meadows has left our countryside bereft; it is fantastic news that there will be a serious national mission to restore meadows to the countryside. It is essential for the survival of bees and other insects that we rebuild a functioning network of wildflower corridors across the UK.’
Dominic Jermey, Director General, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), said: ‘As a set of aspirational goals, the UK Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan represents an exciting vision for the future stewardship of Britain’s precious landscapes and wildlife. How effective these ambitions will prove to be in practice will depend on how quickly this thinking is translated into policy, especially in light of urgent wider discussions about post-Brexit environmental legislation. ZSL looks forward to working with policymakers, fellow NGOs and other key stakeholders to make this exciting 25-year vision a reality – before it’s too late for some of our most cherished species and habitats.’
Prof Alastair Driver, Director (England and Wales) at Rewilding Britain, said: ‘We welcome the publication of the long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan. It is essential that the devolved governments quickly develop clear and challenging targets to deliver this plan, backed up with milestones to achieve those targets and also that future governments stick to the plan and see it through. If they do that, then we can have every confidence in reversing the decline in biodiversity in the UK and creating a better environment for future generations.’
Julie Williams, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation said: ‘This long-awaited plan provides a tangible way forward that will enable us to protect nature and strengthen our environmental laws in the future, but for the plan to deliver on its promises, it must be backed up by real action by the Government. We would encourage everybody to use this chance to speak up for nature by taking part in this consultation.’
Ben McCarthy, Director of Strategy at Plantlife, said: ‘The under-reported decline of our meadows - 97% lost since the 1930s - is one of the biggest tragedies in the history of UK nature conservation so we are delighted to see the government include long-term, landscape-scale plans to safeguard and protect our grassland in the 25 year plan for the environment.
‘Meadows are an absolutely crucial habitat for plant life; just a single healthy meadow can be home to over 100 species of wild flowers, such as cuckoo flower, yellow rattle, over twenty species of orchids, knapweed and scabious compared to most modern agricultural pasture which typically supports under a dozen species. So, as we approach an exit from the European Union, it is heartening to see government gearing up to restore our beleaguered meadows, create new meadows and better support farmers in their efforts to manage grassland for nature.
‘Plantlife will continue to spearhead grassland conservation by working closely with government to halt the destruction of meadows and restore our existing magnificent meadowlands that so enrich the lives of plants, wildlife and people.’
Andy Atkins, CEO of A Rocha UK, said: ‘Churches across the UK are increasingly understanding the need to take care of our world as an expression of their faith. A Rocha UK welcomes the new Government plan and the opportunity it brings to reverse the current decline in nature across the country. However, just as faith without action is redundant, the Government’s plans will not come to fruition without decisive moves on legal targets, funding and oversight.’
Sally Hamilton, CEO of ORCA, said: ‘This strategy represents a crossroads for the UK’s rich natural heritage – take the wrong path, and this Government will rob our future generations of the chance to enjoy stunning habitats and eco-systems that are already under intense pressure. Safeguarding the environment must be a priority, and we hope to see robust measures that will give all stakeholders the tools and resources they need to protect UK wildlife.’
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