Thank you to those who have contacted me about the Environmental Bill.
In March 2019, the Government published its update on meeting the Aichi biodiversity targets. Of the 19 targets assessed, five are on track and 14 show progress, although at an insufficient rate to meet the target in full. Although I am encouraged that the report highlights significant successes on which we can build upon, I acknowledge the need to do more.
I am pleased that one million hectares of our best freshwater and terrestrial habitats are now being conserved through protected sites designations and 36 per cent of English inshore and offshore waters are now within Marine Protected Areas. Species recovery projects are ongoing, for example on freshwater pearl mussel, short-haired bumblebee and stone curlew, and new funding for woodland expansion and peatland restoration in the UK has been made available. Funding has also been increased for international biodiversity conservation.
The 25-Year Environment Plan commits the UK Government to even more. Internationally the UK Government is investing more than £36 million between 2014 and 2021 to counter illegal wildlife trade and is calling for an increase from 10 per cent to 30 per cent of the world’s oceans to be in marine protected areas by 2030, while leading in the fight against plastic pollution.
At home, a new Environment Bill will put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government and a new Nature Recovery Network will provide an expanding and increasingly connected network of places for wildlife to thrive.
I understand that there are many stressors on planetary health and mitigating and adapting to climate change is one of the fundamental goals of the Plan.