Welsh Government urged to take action to save our natural world

Tuesday 13th October 2015

On Tuesday 13 October 17:00 at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, representatives from 19 conservation organisations will join together to host an evening to present their Response for Nature report for Wales.

The Response follows the ground breaking State of Nature report, published in 2013 by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations. Despite notable conservation successes in recent years, the State of Nature report concluded that wildlife in the UK is at a crisis point, with more than one in ten of all the species assessed under threat of extinction [note 1]. This has major implications for us all: from our well-being, to flood protection and pollination and for the sustainability and productivity of the Welsh economy. There is clearly an urgent need for action. 

The Response for Nature report shows that there are positive actions that must be taken to protect Wales’ precious plants and wildlife for future generations to enjoy. These include delivering a network of special places for nature and fully implementing and defending the laws that conserve our wildlife.

Colin Cheesman Plantlife Cymru’s Programme Manager said, “Wales is such a beautiful country we can sometimes take it for granted. It can be difficult to notice how much we are losing from our natural world, as we’re taking more than what we’re putting back. That is simply not sustainable. As anyone with a credit card will tell you, if you keep borrowing more than you can afford, very soon you will have a maxed-out card. That is effectively what we’re doing to the Welsh environment and its wildlife. But if the actions set out in the Response for Nature Report for Wales are taken now, we can make Wales a much richer place to live in; for us, for future generations and for nature.”

The Response for Nature partners, representing a broad range of conservation bodies, have identified a number of actions and initiatives that need to be undertaken, particularly by Government and the public sector, to respond to the state of nature. They will share the report with politicians, decision-makers, academics and businesses, calling on them to commit to the essential actions needed to turn around the fortunes of nature in Wales. The Response for Nature partnership is hosting similar events in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

According to Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Cymru Director “We are losing nature at an alarming rate, so we must act now to halt and reverse this decline before it’s too late – not only for nature itself, but for people too. Wales has 40% of the UK’s upland oak woodland, a beautiful and globally important habitat that we must not lose. 1 in 6 of Welsh plants are threatened with extinction. Almost two thirds of Welsh butterflies are declining. [Note 1] These are shocking discoveries. Without action, Welsh families might not experience these woods as our ancestors did, never see beautiful small tortoiseshell butterflies, hear the call of the chough along our coastal cliffs, or smell a fresh meadow filled with wildflowers.

“It is now clear that nature in Wales is under serious threat. But it is also clear that we can do something to reverse this. If our government and we as a community act now, we can make sure that future generations still benefit from and enjoy fantastic nature right on their door step.”

The report includes key asks for the public sector in Wales: 

• Set an inspiring vision for nature
• Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature
• Deliver a network of special places for nature
• Recover threatened species
• Improve the connection of young people to nature
• Use public funding proactively for nature
• Breathe life into our well-being goals
• Support people working together for nature

Rachel Sharpe, Wildlife Trusts Wales Chief Executive said, “We are lucky in Wales to have some of the best outdoor spaces anywhere on earth. But amazingly, one in four children never play outside. Welsh children are also the least connected to nature in the UK with just under 90% of Wales’ children disconnected from the natural world [note 2]. We know that being in and around nature benefits children’s health and well-being, just like it does for adults [note 3]. That’s why one of the report’s recommendations is that by 2018, at least 1% of the public health budget should be invested in making sure that we all have easy access to healthy and vibrant natural environments. 

Russel Hobson, Butterfly Conservation Wales Head of Conservation at said, “It is evident that people value nature with 94% of the UK population agreeing that we must halt biodiversity loss [note 4]. We all have a part to play in this journey. By working in partnership we can provide a home for nature, and create a lasting connection with wildlife in Wales.”

Steve Lucas, Bat Conservation Trust Wales Officer said, “Nature matters and we are privileged that we can enjoy some fantastic and unique wildlife here in Wales. People travel from across the globe to enjoy the stunning nature we have here, contributing millions to the Welsh economy. We need to work together to set an inspiring vision to ensure that we can continue to enjoy and benefit from all that nature gives us, now and in the future.”

Bat Conservation Trust Wales Officer, Steve Lucas, will open the event, followed by speeches from Peter Davies, Wales' first Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Matthew Quinn, Director of Environment and Sustainable Development for the Welsh Government, Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Cymru Director, and 15 year old Caty Antunes will be giving her own thoughts on what nature means to her.

Steve Lucas concludes: “The Response for Nature partners look forward to working with the Welsh Government to breathe new life into our natural world.”

The Response for Nature: Wales report is a collaboration of 19 organisations listed below:

• Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
• Bat Conservation Trust
• Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
• Buglife
• Bumblebee Conservation Trust
• Butterfly Conservation
• Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
• Freshwater Habitats Trust
• The Fungus Conservation Trust
• The Local Records Centres Wales
• The Mammal Society
• Marine Conservation Society
• National Trust
• People’s Trust for Endangered Species
• Plantlife Cymru
• The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Cymru
• Whale and Dolphin Conservation
• Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
• Wildlife Trust Wales
 

References:


1. State of Nature analysis using International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List criteria

2. RSPB (2013) Connecting with nature. Available from: rspb.org.uk/connectionmeasure

3. Pretty J, Peacock J, Sellens M, (2005) The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise. International Journal of Environmental Health Research 15: 319-337.

4. European Commission (2013) Flash Eurobarometer 379: Attitudes towards Biodiversity, November 2013.

Click on the images below to read the report in English or in Welsh.