From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published August 27, 2007 02:58 PM

UK Ministers Rush To Protect Priority Species And Habitats

UNITED KINGDOM - Britians Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is pushing to protect species and habitats. The British government intends to halt any further biodiversity loss by 2010. The environment ministers approved a priorities list that will guide future conservation action.


This list is the result of the most comprehensive analysis by experts ever undertaken in the UK and contains 1149 species and 65 habitats that have been listed as a basis for prioritizing conservation action under the UK


Biodiversity Action Plan.


Recognition has been given to the critical role of several habitats new to the list including traditional orchards and ponds. In addition to previously listed species such as the otter, bottlenose dolphin, red squirrel, and black


grouse, the revised list includes the garden tiger moth, house sparrow and grass snake.


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The list has increased in numbers since the original Biodiversity Action Plan list was compiled ten years ago because the review involved a more rigorous analysis of a wider range of species and habitats. The review also took better account of less well known species. As a result, several habitats and many additional species have been identified as priorities. Some species are newly included because they are in decline or under threat.


Minister for Biodiversity, Joan Ruddock said: "Conserving biodiversity is essential if we are to pass on a healthy


environment to the next generation. The new list will help us to target our resources and efforts where they are needed, and demonstrates our commitment to publish new priorities, targets and plans for halting biodiversity loss


by 2010.


"Through the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, we have shown that we can be very successful when we target our resources at conserving particular species and habitats. We have increased the population of the rare bird, the cirl bunting and increased the areas of lowland heathland. We have even been able to remove some species from the list, such as the Killarney fern and the prickly sedge, because we have already met all our action plan objectives


"Of course it is also true that some species are newly included because of new declines or threats, and I am only too well aware of declines in such common or garden species such as the hedgehog, and house-sparrow, as well as the Atlantic salmon.


"Our climate is changing and it is therefore more important than ever that our conservation efforts help our important wildlife habitats to adapt and increase their chances of survival."


For England, Natural England will now consider this list in formulating their advice on the composition of the Section 41 list of species and habitats of principal importance in England under the Natural Environment and Rural


Communities Act.


The devolved administrations will also be seeking the advice of the Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Environment & Heritage Service (in Northern Ireland) to inform the construction of their own statutory lists1 and in identifying priorities within the context of their national biodiversity strategies.


Joan Ruddock thanked the various experts who have worked on the list, she said: "I would like to thank the hundreds of experts who have been involved in this review, many of them unpaid, who have worked tirelessly over the last three years to bring it to completion".


Scottish Minister for Environment, Michael Russell said: "Scotland welcomes the publication of this new list of priority species and habitats, which provides valuable information on the state of biodiversity across the whole of the UK.


"The new list will help inform any revision of the Scottish Biodiversity List and priorities for action under the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. I will be seeking advice from Scottish Natural Heritage and other interested parties in taking that forward."


Jane Davidson, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing said:


"Wales welcomes the publication of the new list of priority species and habitats which will allow us a better focus on future conservation action. "The Wales Biodiversity Partnership has begun the process of producing a new section 42 list for Wales, and has set up a Species and Habitats Priority Lists Task and Finish Group to take this work forward. I anticipate that this new list will be published by the end of the year."


Sir Martin Doughty, Natural England's Chair said: "Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the natural environment. Natural England is working to ensure that adaptation to climate change is at the heart of our work to conserve and enhance the revised Biodiversity Action Plan list, particularly through better targeting of Environmental Stewardship."


Dr Nigel Bourn, Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link's Biodiversity Working Group, welcomed the new list as a major boost for conservation. He said: "The list will focus effort on the real, shared conservation priorities in the UK. The conservation charities that make up Link, backed by our seven million members, look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Government. Together we can turn the list into targeted action to deliver the conservation of our very special habitats and species."


The new Biodiversity Action Plan can be read at: http://www.ukbap.org.uk/.


The UK Biodiversity Partnership is considering the best methods to conserve the priority species and habitats on the new list, and this will inform priorities in the different parts of the UK. Priority actions have been identified and are being further refined. These actions have been grouped into categories which will outline how we will deal with single species actions and action planning at a habitat level, as well as dealing with research priorities, and wider actions relating to agriculture, forestry management, fisheries policies, water and water quality management, strategic planning


etc. Work is also progressing on assigning responsibilities for key roles in the delivery of these conservation actions.


The goal of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, is to conserve and enhance biological diversity within the UK and to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of global biodiversity, in line with our international


commitments.


The Government is committed to halting biodiversity loss by 2010. This is in response to the international Convention on Biological Diversity.


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