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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what happened in the last month. For updates from our working groups, please go to the policy hub. If you would like to submit news items for our monthly e-bulletin, please contact Ellie Ward. To subscribe please enter your email here.

March 2021

Imogen's Horizon Scan

This month we received confirmation that the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) will take place in October. CBD was originally planned for 2020, and like UN Climate Conference (UNFCCC COP26), will now take place in a changed world. Governments have the chance to make the most of this moment of transformation; to decide that the path out of the current health crisis will also lead us away from the twin biodiversity and climate crises that loom on the horizon. Along with colleagues across the UK, we are working to give decision makers the policy tools they need to help forge international agreement to act now - for nature, people and the climate.

Environmental Policy News

State of Nature campaign: Seizing the moment
Over sixty nature and climate organisations have come together to call for call for a State of Nature target on the face of the Environment Bill, placing a legal requirement on the Government to reverse the decline of species and habitats in England by 2030. The campaign, which launched on 1 March, has brought together politicians from all parties with campaigners and has attracted widespread-press coverage. In this G7, COP and CBD year, this is the major opportunity for nature – for the UK to become the first country to set ambitious targets in law for the recovery of the natural world, providing a powerful action plan that other countries can follow. Want to support the campaign? The State of Nature petition is nearing 125,000 signatures and your support could help us get there! Keep your eyes peeled to for further State of Nature moments as Spring progresses, including something rather special planned for April 1st…

A new start for farming? Sustainable Farming Incentive launched
10 March saw the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the first of a series of environmental land management schemes designed to tie support for farmers to the provision of public goods (such as cleaner air and carbon reduction). Farmers have been invited to join SFI, which will run on a pilot basis for a year before being rolled out more widely. It looks set to be a critical road-test; Link has drawn attention to a concerning focus in the announced SFI standards on business-as-usual activities on farms, such as basic soil and hedgerow management. Without amendment, there is a danger that SFI could simply deliver more of the same for farming and fail to achieve the post-Brexit transformation in farming promised by the Agriculture Act. Of course, pilots are designed to facilitate amendment – hopefully the the experience of and results from this pilot will steer SFI, and the wider environmental land management programme, onto the intended high ambition path.

Bovine TB – the shift away from badger culling continues
In March 2020, in its response to the Godfray Review, the Government set out a roadmap for badger culling to end – only for the pandemic to delay follow-up action. A year on, we are now closer to meaningful progress, following a consultation on proposals to stop issuing intensive cull licences for new areas post-2022. Link’s Bovine TB Task and Finish Group submitted a full response to the consultation this month, welcoming this progress whilst stressing the need for a faster pace. As highlighted in the response, even under the consultation phase-out proposals, over 160,000 more badgers could be killed before all intensive cull licences are finally brought to an end. This could bring the final total of badgers killed as a result of the cull policy to over 300,000, with limited impact on Bovine TB in cattle to show in return. As the Government’s Bovine TB eradication programme moves in line with the science, away from culling and towards vaccination, the futility of further badger culling only increases. We know that badger culling doesn’t work. The time to act on that knowledge is now.

Bulletin Board

Three Link blogs you may have missed:

The science, cross-party peers and the Minister agree: heather burning is bad for peatThe science, cross-party peers and the Minister agree: heather burning is bad for peat
Adam Barnett, Senior Parliamentary Officer at RSPB, reviews the debate in the House of Lords on the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021.

A Natural Health Service for Captain Sir Tom
Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, talks about the wonderful new scheme 'Trees for Tom', planting trees across the UK and eight other countries in memory of the much-loved Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Recognising and rewarding the people protecting our National Parks

Laura Williams at Campaign for National Parks shares the results of the annual Park Protector Awards and reflects on what a challenging 2020 has meant for our national parks and the people protecting them.

Mayoral Environment Debate: 12 April
The More Natural Capital Coalition are a group of environmental charities who share a common vision for a greener London. The Coalition have joined forces with climate and transport groups in London to host the Mayoral Environment Debate on 12 April, chaired by presenter & environmentalist Julia Bradbury. The debate will allow London Mayoral candidates to forward their policies on nature and climate to voters ahead of polling day on 6 May. To attend, please register here.

City Nature Challenge
This global challenge is taking place in 400 cities across six continents between 30 April and 4 May. It’s a chance for anyone and everyone to contribute to a worldwide study of trees, plants and wildlife, taking photos of the the nature around them to help to shape conservation efforts, support scientific research developments and land management. More information about taking part can be found here.

Sector job vacancies:

A list of job opportunities across the Link network can be found here, including roles with Friends of the Earth, Salmon and Trout Conservation, the South East Rivers Trust and The Rivers Trust.

Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 57 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. You can learn more about Link’s policy work here.

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