Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to protect rare species.
The Government remains committed to taking action to recover our threatened native species. In England, we have set four legally binding targets for biodiversity: to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030; then to reverse declines by 2042; to reduce the risk of species extinction by 2042; and restore or create more than 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat, also by 2042. We have set out our plan to deliver on these ambitious targets, along with our other environmental targets, in the revised Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP23), published 31 January 2023. The EIP23 revises the 25-Year Environment Plan as part of our obligations under the Environment Act 2021.
We know that to meet our targets we will need large-scale habitat restoration, creation and improved connectivity; to tackle pressures on species including pollution, unsustainable use of resources and climate change; and targeted action to recover specific species. Measures introduced in the Environment Act, such as Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) and Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS), will help deliver actions to enable wildlife to recover and thrive. Additionally, our new Environmental Land Management schemes will pay for sustainable farming practices, creating and preserving habitat such as woodland, heathland and species-rich grassland, as well as making landscape-scale environmental changes, all of which could benefit our threatened native species.
Additionally, Natural England's Species Recovery Programme (SRP) supports the recovery of threatened and declining species, such as lady’s slipper orchid, water vole, natterjack toad, wartbiter cricket, and curlew. On 3 April 2023, Natural England launched the Species Recovery Programme Capital Grant Scheme which will support projects over two years, delivering targeted conservation action through the creation and improvement of specific wildlife habitats, conservation translocations, as well as supporting research and creating solutions to address species decline.