Biodiversity is key to the survival of life on Earth. It underpins the functioning of all ecosystems essential for human well-being, delivering a cultural, social and economic service that enriches our lives. Yet, despite its fundamental importance, biodiversity continues to be lost with its deprivation compromising ecological sustainability. Published in 2016, the National Biodiversity Network’s (NBN) State of Nature report, suggests that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world ranking 189th out of 218 countries. Additionally, out of the 8,000 species assessed in the report, 15% are recorded to be either extinct or threatened with extinction from Great Britain. Research by DEFRA moreover indicates only 38.5% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) were in a favourable condition in 2016, compared with 44% in 2003.
In response to the issue, the government has altered its application and funding arrangements for the Community Stewardships Scheme, encouraging more environmentally-friendly land management practices to enhance the breeding and foraging opportunities for birds, pollinating insects and other wildlife. As part of its Single Departmental Plan, DEFRA has committed £100 million into a range of projects to support the natural environment, including schemes to remediate contaminated land, restore important peatland habitats and increase woodland planting. Most recent data shows that the government spent an estimated £14.7 billion on environmental protection in 2015 (ONS, 2017).
The EU has also enacted various measures to sustain vital ecosystems and keep our environment healthy. With the UK government negotiating the nation’s exit from the European Union, it is vital that equivalent environmental standards can be maintained post-Brexit.
As the UK seeks solutions to increased demand on living space and food production this symposium provides an excellent opportunity for local authorities, environmental groups, third sector organisations and other key stakeholders to identify priorities for achieving biodiversity and conservation targets. It will also enable all delegates to share best practice in protecting vital habitats and decreasing biodiversity loss in local areas.
- Examine the impact of the new Community Stewardships Scheme in promoting and protecting biodiversity
- Review the Biodiversity 2020 Strategy and discuss ways to boost Natural Capital
- Discuss the challenges posed by Brexit and how the UK can maintain equivalent environmental standards
- Explore ways to increase public awareness and understanding of the impact of biodiversity loss and increase engagement in conservation projects
- Review the State of Nature Report and examine measures that best protect wildlife and natural habitats across the UK
- Consider Agri – Environment Schemes with flexibility to meet local and regional environmental needs
- Develop methods for encouraging increased integration and collaboration between public bodies at the local level
- Scrutinise the role of local authorities in supporting biodiversity projects and providing expertise for communities
- Scrutinise innovative financing instruments for developing new biodiversity projects
- Share best practice in promoting and protecting biodiversity at the national and local levels