The UK Government’s figure of how much land is currently protected effectively for biodiversity has been over-estimated, according to conservation scientists.
In a new paper published today in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation, scientists from the RSPB examined the area of land designated as protected in the UK and whether it is being managed effectively for nature conservation. The authors discovered that as little as 5% is actually being protected effectively for nature – significantly less than the UK Government’s reported figure of 28%.
Protected areas for nature are valuable refuges for many of our most vulnerable habitats and species and this paper comes at a crucial time for nature. In 2010, under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Governments from around the world agreed and committed to meet twenty global targets to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 (known as the ‘Aichi Targets’). A global stocktake in 2020 showed that they had collectively failed to meet these global ambitions and the RSPB’s A Lost Decade for Nature report, published exactly one year ago, warned that the UK hadn’t taken sufficient action and had missed seventeen of these twenty targets.
One of the key global Aichi Targets celebrated by the UK Government as ‘achieved’, called for at least 17% of land important for biodiversity and ecosystem services to be effectively conserved, managed, ecologically representative, and well connected by 2020. Under the UK Government’s assessment for this target (in 2019), 28% of UK land was reportedly within protected areas for nature, apparently exceeding the 17% target.
However, the authors of the new paper The extent and effectiveness of Protected Areas in the UK, analysed all the UK’s land based protected areas and found that of the 28% of land reported to be protected for nature, only 11% is designated primarily for nature conservation and should therefore be included as part of the national contribution.
Posted On: 02/09/2021