Posted 14th Dec 2017
If you could hang a Christmas stocking for nature this year, what presents would you hope Santa would fill it with? These are the five big issues the RSPB's Ruth Davis, the new RSPB Deputy Director for Global Conservation - Policy and Partnerships, has highlighted for politicians and world leaders start to tackle.
The rate at which we are losing nature is shocking. We have to stop making animals and plants extinct, and destroying the special places where they need to live. In fact, we need to bring back what we’re losing, and reverse the decline of the world’s wildlife. Politicians have the power to make many of the changes nature needs, and that includes making the right decisions when they vote for or against certain laws.
Use land better
We need to improve the way we look after land, and that means looking at how we grow our food. Many of our fastest declining birds are found on farmland, for example curlews and turtle doves. Governments should be rewarding farmers for boosting wildlife, but also improving soil, protecting naturally stored carbon. That’ll make a big difference as we try to slow down climate change.
Save our oceans
We all enjoyed watching the spectacular Blue Planet II, which highlighted a number of threats facing our seas. As well as stopping the tide of plastic waste in our marine environment we also need to get better protection for the oceans. Fishing needs to happen at a level seas can cope with, making sure marine life and coastal communities thrive in the future. In addition, marine developments like offshore windfarms need to be built in the right places, avoiding areas where they’d have a negative impact on local wildlife.
Reduce pesticide use
Britain needs insects! Many of our birds and other animals, like bats, rely on insects as food, and these tiny animals also play a vital role in pollinating our crops. However our insect populations have crashed. We need to look carefully at what pesticides and other chemicals are being used in the countryside. The recent ban on one group of harmful chemicals, neonicotinoids, was good news. But to halt the insect decline, better regulation is needed.
Saving nature begins at home. Involving communities in bringing nature back to their local areas, and investing in wildlife friendly businesses brings benefits for all. At the RSPB we’ve worked on some fantastic community challenges, like the successful Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project, and we know what a positive experience this can be for everyone involved. Imagine what communities could do if projects like this could be set up easily and were quickly supported by political leaders.
We know that these are big presents to ask for. Even the magic of Father Christmas might not be able to conjure them all up this year. But nature needs champions in government, so we hope that politicians bear these in mind and look for opportunities to make a difference.
The UK Government has pledged to pass nature on to the next generation in a better condition than in which they inherited it. They have promised to publish a 25-year Environment Plan, to lay out how they'll do this for England. Find out how you can help here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/leaf-nature-better
Image courtesy of Nick Upton