UK Failing to meet biodiversity targets

english countrysideAn environmental audit committee, chaired by MP Tim Yeo, reported today that the UK was failing to meet its biodiversity targets.

No surprises there then...

Biodiversity loss and local extinctions continue, seemingly, unabated on the mainland and also on the UK's overseas territories - despite the best efforts of conservationists. Progress has been made in some areas, but the Government will fail to meet its 2010 target to halt biodiversity loss: with far reaching implications.

It is a sad fact that environmental targets seem to be so unattainable and this, no doubt, contributed to this report.

The brightest news surrounded Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), of which 80% are now in favourable condition and a number of rare species have recovered. But in the wider landscape species and habitats continue to face severe declines. The report says: "Although there are barriers to overcome there is no reason why biodiversity loss could not be halted in England - indeed, with leadership and effective policies, biodiversity loss could be reversed. The Government should adopt a new target for halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2020."

If all this sounds too familiar - wherever you are in the world - then it probably is. This revolving story of excuses and policies hides the one true problem; sustainable development is still just a phrase and doesn't mean anything tangible. Badly thought out planning, extensive house building and the sprint for biofuels have all comprimised biodiversity and they all seem to be higher in the pecking order of priorities than nature conservation.

The report states that one of the most important steps the UK Government could take to slow biodiversity loss would be to provide "more support" for the UK Overseas Territories, where it is the "eleventh hour" for many species. The threat is even greater on these, typically, small islands and the biodiversity just as important.

"The Government must act now to protect these areas," says the report.

Of course, the cynics will argue that this is merely shifting responsibility away from the real problems at home.