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UK risks biodiversity loss without urgent action, report warns

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Natural solutions to tackle climate change should be implemented now to halt the UK’s declining biodiversity, a report has recommended.

The joint report was signed by the five UK statutory nature agencies: Natural England (NE); Natural Resources Wales (NRW); NatureScot; Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

The report states that more efforts to maintain biodiversity would deliver “huge benefits” to human health, well-being and the UK economy, but will require significant societal changes.

It suggests nine priority actions that should to be taken by 2030 to help reverse the biodiversity decline trend. These include better conservation of wildlife habitats outside protected areas; investing in habitat restoration; tackling pollution; developing the market for green finance, and deploying nature-based solutions to help mitigate climate change.

The report suggests that efforts to aid in nature recovery should be on the same footing as those for climate change if the UK is going to meet its net-zero carbon targets by 2050.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: “Nature recovery is within our grasp: we can become Nature Positive by 2030, provided we act now. We need to go high nature and low carbon, tackling the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change together.”

The report calls for increased sources of finance for nature, including private investment and a switch away from “harmful subsidies” to payments for supporting nature.

Clare Pillman, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Restoring nature is our primary defence against climate breakdown and this report demonstrates the collective ambition of all four nations of the UK to do just that.

“While our window of opportunity is small, we know that real change can happen when governments, groups and individuals work together to protect our climate and natural world. Natural Resources Wales is committed to that effort.”

The UK is gearing up to host COP26 in Glasgow in November, which will see leaders from all over the world convene to discuss climate change in the most significant meeting of its type since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

Despite the rhetoric coming from the government about the need to reduce the UK’s climate impact, Johnson recently defended the decision not to abandon plans for oil and gas drilling in the Cambo oil field in the North Atlantic.

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