Author Archive

Hidden value of nature revealed

The natural environment is worth billions of pounds to the UK economy and must be better protected, according to the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA).  The report strengthens the arguments for protecting and enhancing the environment and will be used by the government to direct policy in future.

Many people may believe that caring for the environment means extra financial burdens, but the UK NEA shows that there are real economic reasons for looking after nature.  It also shows that the benefits we get to our health, well being and from the enjoyment of nature have not always been fully appreciated or valued.

The assessment provides economic values for a range of services that the ecosystem gives us for free to help us fully understand the value of the natural environment and how the benefits to individuals and society as a whole can be better protected and preserved for future generations.

The UK NEA shows that the tendency to focus only on the market value of resources we can use and sell, such as timber, crops and fisheries, has led to the decline of some ecosystems and habitats through pollution, over-exploitation, and land conversion.

See the Defra press release here and the NEA report here.

New European biodiversity strategy

The European Commission has adopted an ambitious new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. Biodiversity loss is an enormous challenge in the EU, with around one in four species currently threatened with extinction and 88% of fish stocks over-exploited or significantly depleted.

The six targets cover:

  • Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity
  • Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure
  • More sustainable agriculture and forestry
  • Better management of fish stocks
  • Tighter controls on invasive alien species
  • A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss

Target 1, fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives, is particularly relevant to European Marine Sites.  The targer is “To halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status so that, by 2020, compared to current assessments: (i) 100% more habitat assessments and 50% more species assessments under the Habitats Directive show an improved conservation status; and (ii) 50% more species assessments under the Birds Directive show a secure or improved status.”

More detail here

Site selection guidance for Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zones published

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 provides powers to better protect and manage the marine environment of Wales. These powers include creating Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) – a new type of marine protected area. This guidance sets out how the Welsh Government intend to identify highly protected MCZs in Welsh waters.

The guidance and government response to consulation on the guidance are available here.