Defra has produced Biodiversity 2020: a strategy for England's wildlife and ecosystem services Indicators in December 2014, an assessment of trends of improvement and deterioration for key indicators. In summary, there are 48 individual measures that make up 24 indicators. A mixed picture of short and long term improvement and deterioration.
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Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The UK parliament's Environmental Audit Committee has published the report of its inquiry on An Environmental Scorecard for the UK. It finds that the UK government, despite policy commitments, has fallen short in a number of key respects. In summary:
The committee recommends the government should develop an overarching Environment Strategy to:
- set out strategic principles to guide the action needed to improve the quality of protection over the next 5, 10 and 25 years;
- include the actions and good practices required in local government, as well as the actions needed in central Government to help bring those changes about;
- facilitate a more informed discussion between central and local government about environment resource funding requirements for local authorities;
- encompass a clear assessment of the state of the environment including in each of the 10 environmental areas covered in our report;
- identify the research and analysis work that needs to be done and coordinated to fill gaps in the data that that such assessment requires;
- map appropriate policy levers to each environmental area and set out a clear statement on the place of regulation, public engagement and fiscal incentives as complementary measures. Such a Strategy should involve, for example, a reconsideration of the scope for greater hypothecation of environmental taxes to support expenditure on environmental protection programmes;
It also recommends the establishment of an Office for Environmental Resposibility to:
- review the Environment Strategy we advocate;
- advise Government on appropriate targets;
- advise Government on policies, both those in Government programmes and new ones that could be brought forward to support the
- advise Government about the adequacy of the resources (in both central and local government) made available for delivering the Strategy; and
- monitor and publish performance against the Strategy and its targets
The UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee produced a report in July 2014 on DEFRA's National Pollinator Strategy. The National Pollinator Strategy has been in draft and a consultation has recently been completed - finalization is planned for later in the year. The EAC conducted an earlier 2013 inquiry on Pollinators and Pesticides - part of a series of UK policy activities looking at pollinator impacts.
The inquiry on the National Pollinator Strategy makes the following key points:
- Defra's plans for research on the role and value of pollinators, and the impacts of pesticides, are welcome. A national monitoring framework is a good idea - a clear baseline will be an important first step.
- The involvement of industry funding for critical research is a possible difficulty. Independence of research is essential - with peer review and publication of results.
- Schemes within UK implementation of the EU Common Agricultural policy must support and protect pollinators - this must be included in forthcoming review.
- The final National Pollinator Strategy must give a clear view of what Integrated Pest Management involves, and ensure that interpretation of IPM reflects
- best practice elsewhere
- Public engagement in protecting pollinators is a good thing, including pollinator-friendly
- There is disagreement with the UK government of interpreting and possibly weakening the "precautionary principle" by including economic considerations.
- The UK should, in the strategy, accept the European risk assessments underpinning the neonicotinoid ban and will "neither seek to end it when a European review is conducted in 2015 nor otherwise circumvent it".
The UK National Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2011 and now a Follow-on report has been produced. The main emphasis is on tools to aid decision makers in developing policy tools and strategy: natural capital; an updated land use change model that included biodiversity; valuation of cultural ecosystem services; forward scenarios; embedding knowledge for policy; and adaptive management principles.
The UK House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has reported on its inquiry on Food Security. The Inquiry makes a range of recommendations relating to better planning for crises as a result of weather or other events; planning for increasing global food demand; climate change impacts; organic food; genetically modified crops and other issues. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seen as having a key role.
Government response was published in October 2014 - gives breakdown figures for research expenditure on food science.
The UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee has published a report on Sustainability in the UK Overseas Territories. The report argues for better and more consistent policy focus on the part of the UK government, clarity on the respective responsibilities of the UK government and UKOT governments, and various actions with respect to international law and with respect to CBD and other conventions.
It also recommends that Defra should convene UKOT governments with NGOs and research organisations to develop and agree a research programme to catalogue the full extent of biodiversity in the UKOTs. Better planning regimes to value and protect natural capital and promote sustainable tourism industries and economies are also recommended. Marine Protected Areas for the Pitcairn Islands, Tristan da Cunha and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are proposed (there is already a MPA in place for the British Indian Ocean Territory - the Chagos archipelago).
The UKOTs are: Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Turks and Caicos Islands; and British Virgin Islands.
Natural England has published a commissioned report - Engaging people in biodiversity issues: Final report of the Biodiversity Segmentation Scoping study (B2020-004) - useful background research on public attitudes and interests in biodiversity.
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a short review of policy and evidence on Bees and other pollinators. This is a first step in developing a national pollinator strategy for England in 2014 - expert workshops are planned for September and October 2013.