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MPs receive nature ‘news from the future’ on April Fool’s Day

1 April 2021

Environment, conservation, animal welfare and access charities challenge Government to set a State of Nature target to make the hopeful headlines come true


This April Fool’s Day 65 nature charities have joined together to remind MPs that the State of Nature is no joke. They have sent every MP in England a ‘newspaper from the future’. It includes the headlines for 1 April 2030 if a nature recovery target is put into law in the Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. [1] The charities say we would be fools not to make the most of this chance to improve the State of Nature.

The stunt newspaper features stories where the UK exceeds climate targets, becomes international surfing HQ with its pristine seas, and reverses years of declines for wildlife like hedgehogs, butterflies and bees. Other stories tell of a boost for farming profits through investment in nature and an end to the obesity crisis as people’s access to green spaces is improved.

Celebrities with a passion for nature have taken to Twitter posting photos of themselves reading the 2030 newspaper. They include TV presenters Chris Packham, conservationist Steve Backshall and Olympic rower Helen Glover, and youth environment activist Mya-Rose Craig (known as Birdgirl). [2]

The coalition is using the April Fool’s Day action to highlight its State of Nature campaign, which is petitioning the Prime Minister to amend the Environment Bill to include a legally-binding target to halt nature’s decline by 2030. Launched exactly 1 month ago (on 1 March) the campaign has already achieved more than 100,000 signatures for its petition, enough to seek a debate on the issue in Parliament. The coalition are urging more people to sign to show the strength of public support for stronger protections for our natural world.

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Read all about it! Our News of the (Natural) World is our dream of a greener future. MPs have the power to make it come true. The Environment Bill is a once in a generation chance to set a legal target for nature’s recovery – a “net zero for nature”. We must take this opportunity to protect wildlife, improve our way of life, and strengthen our economy by investing in nature. We would be fools not to.”

Woodland Trust CEO Dr Darren Moorcroft said: "Nature is the cornerstone of our existence?but, with 60 per cent of native species in decline, you’d be a ‘fool’ not to see it is being depleted at an alarming and serious rate.?

“This is no hoax, we’re in 21st Century UK and irreplaceable ancient woods continue to be threatened and damaged by development, while restoration and tree planting proceeds far too slowly. We need the Government to spring into action by amending the Environment Bill with a clause for turning around nature loss. Legally binding protection must be brought in to ensure wildlife and nature is secured for future generations so that 2030 sees these positive ‘News of the Natural World’ headlines becoming a reality and not simply another April Fool.”

Julie Williams, CEO of Butterfly Conservation wryly noted: “We’ve mailed this paper to MP’s as it is time they became guardians of our future and not just spectators. We hope they telegraph their support for nature recovery targets and mirror our aspirations for nature in a sunny 2030.”

Sandy Luk, CEO of the Marine Conservation Society, said: “April Fools’ Day is full of harmless pranks. What we’re doing to our natural world on land and at sea is anything but. If our governments don’t come up with bold plans and spring into action now, in 2030, the joke will very much be on us.”

Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts said: “It's been almost ten years since the Government promised to reverse the appalling decline of nature and to leave the environment in a better state – but genuine action has been depressingly slow. We need to see an ambitious target to reverse wildlife declines written into law if nature is to begin recovering by 2030. Let’s bring back abundance, humming, buzzing and singing, to the natural world and to our lives once more – we’d be fools not to.”

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB said: “Our ‘newspaper from the future’ lands on doorsteps on April Fools Day full of positive stories about the effectiveness of the Environment Bill. But the reality right now is that we are in a nature and climate emergency, and in England our wildlife is in freefall with once common species becoming rare. The Prime Minister is saying the right things to other world leaders, but the Environment Bill here at home is not yet fit for purpose. It simply won’t drive the urgent action we need without this crucial amendment. Every constituency and constituent will benefit from a healthy natural world, so it should be a simple ask for MPs to make nature’s recovery a headline rather than a punchline and amend the Environment Bill so that it can truly revive our world.”

The nature experts say putting nature’s recovery in law would be ‘a net-zero target for wildlife’ with England becoming the first country in the world to have a legal target to tackle the nature crisis. It could not only reverse decades of decline for English nature it would be a rallying point and catalyst for other countries to adopt similar targets – making us real global leaders going into international climate and nature talks this Autumn.

The current targets framework in the Environment Bill does not match up to the Prime Minister’s stated ambition of halting the decline in nature by 2030. The deadlines are too far away and there is no detail about the objectives that will be set. [3] A binding 2030 nature target, in combination with a strong and independent Office for Environmental Protection, would give the statutory certainty needed to inspire investment and coordinate action across the economy [4].

The nature coalition is asking members of the public to sign their petition to the Prime Minister to show the strength of public support for a better State of Nature: www.wcl.org.uk/state-of-nature-campaign

ENDS

Notes to Editors:


• An online version of the 2030 ‘newspaper from the future’ can be found here
• High resolution PNG files of the newspaper pages can be found here


1. Organisations supporting the State of Nature Campaign:
National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, The Woodland Trust, WWF, Greenpeace UK, Black2Nature, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), The Rivers Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, League Against Cruel Sports, SOS-UK, RSPCA, ARC Trust, the Mammal Society, Keep Britain Tidy, Campaign for National Parks, Flood Plain Meadows Partnership, the River Restoration Centre, People's Trust for Endangered Species, Black Environment Network, Surfers Against Sewage, Four Paws UK, Rewilding Britain, The Badger Trust, The British Mountaineering Council, Marine Conservation Society, Wild Justice, John Muir Trust, Forest Stewardship Council UK, Green Alliance, Wildlife Gardening Forum, Open Spaces Society, CPRE The Countryside Charity, Institute of Fisheries Management, A Rocha UK, Born Free Foundation, ORCA, ClientEarth, The Angling Trust, Ramblers GB, Bat Conservation Trust, The Zoological Society of London, WWT (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust), Salmon & Trout Conservation, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Buglife, Plantlife, Earthwatch Europe, Humane Society International UK, Shark Trust, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Naturewatch Foundation, British Ecological Society, ALERC, CHEM Trust, UK Youth for Nature, Sustainable Food Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, The Aldersgate Group, Nature Friendly Farming Network, Blue Ventures, Save the Children, Beaver Trust, UK Green Building Council, Fauna & Flora International, Wildlife & Countryside Link

2. For photos of Steve Backshall, Helen Glover, Mya-Rose Craig, and Chris Packham contact emma.adler@wcl.org.uk

3. Under Clause 3(9), targets under the bill must be laid as a Statutory Instrument in Parliament by 31 October 2022. There is a further period before the targets come into force. Under clause 1(6), a target date must be no less than 15 years after the date on which the target is initially set. It is possible to set interim targets under the bill, but they are non-statutory and non-binding. This means that the earliest deadline for a legally-binding target under the bill is almost 2038.

4. The proposed State of Nature target would cover: the abundance and distribution of species; extinction risk; and the extent and condition of important habitats.