HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc905-6W
Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Government meeting their target of halting the decline in biodiversity by 2010; and what part she intends that the UK's system of local wildlife sites will play in helping to meet that target. [124249]

Mr. Bradshaw

The targets we have set under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) help us to understand the progress we are making towards the global target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. The lead partners for the species and habitat action plans and the local partnerships reported on progress with their plans at the end of 2002 and the results have now been analysed. The emerging findings were reported to the first annual conference of the UK Biodiversity Partnership held in Perth on 21 May 2003.

The analysis shows mixed progress. There are some very good signs of progress for some species and habitats including the otter, the dormouse, bittern, reedbeds and cereal field margins. Others, such as limestone pavements, and the natterjack toad are more disappointing, and one species of lichen appears to have disappeared from its last remaining site as a result of air pollution.

Overall we believe that the targeted, partnership approach adopted by the UKBAP structure is working, albeit in some cases more slowly than we had hoped. Full details can be found on the UKBAP web site at http://ukbap.org.uk.

'Working with the Grain of Nature—A biodiversity strategy for England' published in October 2002 sets out the measures we are taking in England to implement the UKBAP. The strategy aims to ensure that the implications for biodiversity are considered as an integral part of other key policies, such as agriculture, water, forestry, urban and marine, and as part of people's everyday lives. A set of biodiversity indicators for the strategy will be published later this year.

The strategy also recognises the importance of partnership working for biodiversity at the local and regional level. Since 1995 around 100 local biodiversity partnerships have been established throughout England and are helping to deliver national and local biodiversity targets and objectives. Local wildlife sites provide important wildlife refuges, link different habitats and help to maintain biodiversity as a whole. They are an important mechanism available to local biodiversity partnerships.

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