In July 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Government would bring forward an Environment Bill. Butterfly Conservation (BC) understand that Defra are working on the draft of the Bill, to cover England and reserved matters in devolved countries, and this will be published before Christmas.
It is expected that the Bill will include a commitment to leave the environment in a better state over the next 25 years, as well as a set of goals around wildlife and natural assets, and creation of a new environmental watchdog.
The Bill will cover a broad range of issues and will underpin environmental policy for many years, so it provides a key opportunity to influence the future of the environment in the UK. BC is campaigning as part of Wildlife and Countryside Link for a strong Environment Bill to help create a healthier environment for us all. BC believe the Bill needs to be robust enough to help halt and reverse butterfly and moth declines.
Evidence from BC’s long-term monitoring shows that butterflies and moths are in trouble. Reports such as the UK Biodiversity Indicators 2018 highlight declines in both habitat specialists, such as Heath Fritillary and Wood White, and species of the wider countryside, such as Wall and Small Tortoiseshell.
BC’s project work has shown that there are ways to halt and even reverse such declines. The landscape-scale conservation approach works by coordinating conservation work across a number of sites in an area. Our work on Duke of Burgundy has helped to restore small and isolated populations through improved habitat management and provision of specialist advice. We believe the Environment Bill needs to lay out the framework to expand this sort of work.
For the Government to demonstrate they are serious about reversing declines in biodiversity, BC believes that the Environment Bill needs to:
* Set ambitious, legally binding targets to improve the natural environment
* Create a strong and independent environmental watchdog to hold public bodies and the government to account
* Ensure environmental protection from EU policies is transferred into UK law
* Commit to working across all four UK countries
BC is asking supporters to raise their voices to call for a strong Environment Bill. You can write to or meet with your MP to express your concerns. It would be particularly useful to reference declines of butterflies and moths in their constituency or examples that you are particularly concerned about.