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Call for Government action over wildlife threats

…leading nature bodies join together to make call

The heads of the UK’s leading conservation campaign groups have today called on the prime minister to take urgent action for nature.

The State of Nature report, launched on Wednesday by Sir David Attenborough, revealed that 60 per cent of UK wildlife species are in decline. The RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts are joining forces with 11 other organisations to send open letters to all the party leaders urging them to take positive action for nature.

The letter reads: “The report indicates that a shocking number of the plants and animals for which we are all responsible are in serious trouble. Where nature was once common, now we have to seek it out. The people of the United Kingdom have a deep affinity with nature. We ask you to join us in harnessing this by sending a clear signal of your support in the vital task of conserving nature and understanding it better, for the benefit of this and future generations”

“The environment and the amazing variety of life it supports is fundamental to our economy; it has a positive impact on our physical health and emotional wellbeing; and it contributes to our children’s educational and social skills. If it is wrong to leave financial debts for future generations, it is surely equally wrong to leave them to deal with a deficit in our natural capital.

Our organisations, working with many volunteers and sympathetic land managers, are already responding to this crisis. But to turn the situation around needs political commitment too. We therefore ask you to make a public declaration that your party will address the serious declines in species and habitats revealed in the State of Nature.”

The organisations want David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to commit to funding wildlife schemes, tackling the environmental crisis through all areas of Government spending and embarking on an ambitious programme of research and assessment into species declines.Mike Clarke, RSPB chief executive, said: “This report could not have come at a more crucial time. The Government is about to decide where to make cuts in its budgets as part of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. Funding for wildlife-friendly farming, for example, is under threat. But in the longer term there are a lot more tough decisions to be made. This report reveals that more than one in ten UK species are threatened with extinction – the current level of ambition and investment in our environment is simply not enough to tackle this.

Political leaders must now take heed of the robust science presented in this report and ensure that we do not sleepwalk towards and an environmental cliff edge. Millions of people support nature conservation groups, and they will not stand for inaction and platitudes – the time for action is now.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “This report is even more evidence of the need for a change in our attitude to nature in the UK. It is a poignant illustration of the ongoing depletion of our natural capital. Most people in this country value nature and many recognise our total dependence on it; but too few of our critical decisions reflect this.

Now it is the time for this country's leaders in business and government to reverse this trend. It is possible to restore our natural capital whilst attending to our economic prosperity; but not by building the wrong roads. Rather by designating Marine Protected Areas and committing to ecological restoration on land.”

The letter has been signed by the leaders of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Mammal Society, Marine Conservation Society, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Plantlife, Pond Conservation, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Wildlife Trusts.

4th July 2014