§ Mr. Martlew
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans there are to protect the bittern in England; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Morley
The bittern is one of the 391 species for which action plans have been prepared as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The plan sets objectives and targets for the conservation and enhancement of the species.Reports in 2002 on progress with the plan show that targets to increase the range and numbers of the bittern are being achieved. A survey by the RSPB in 2002 recorded a total of 31 booming males in England, almost double the number recorded in 1994. Plans to secure the long term future of the bittern by providing suitable reedbed habitat are also showing progress. In England, 800 hectares of new reedbed have been created since 1995 and the active management of existing reedbeds is improving.
In October 2002 the Government published 'Working with the Grain of Nature—A Biodiversity Strategy for England'. The strategy takes an holistic approach to the conservation of biodiversity within England and is a key means by which the UK BAP will be taken forward in England. It sets out a series of actions for the key sectors which impact on biodiversity, including water and wetlands.