AUTHORS: Graham Tucker
The report summarises the state of play with the development biodiversity targets for habitats and species within the EU (including in the proposed Restoration Law) and the UK. It compares the EU’s proposals with the targets that have been proposed so far in England and Northern Ireland, and concludes that they are not as ambitious, comprehensive or coherent as most of those of the EU. Whilst the legal requirement in England to halt the decline in species abundance is potentially world leading, as currently formulated, the species and habitat targets could be met whilst major declines in biodiversity continue, including in natural and semi-natural habitats and particularly vulnerable species groups.
This report has been prepared as part of a project, funded by the John Ellerman Foundation, that is tracking and assessing the implications of divergence in environmental policy since the UK exited the EU. In particular, it summarises the currently agreed and proposed key biodiversity (nature) targets for habitats and species and compares them in terms of their relevance to biodiversity conservation challenges, ambition and overall coherence. Specifically, the report compares the headline and sub-targets included in the EU’s adopted Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, and proposed Regulation on Nature Restoration (Restoration Law) with proposals for England (in the 2018 25 Year Environment Plan, and March 2022 consultation proposals for environmental targets) and Northern Ireland (in the 2021 draft Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland). The state of play with the development of expected biodiversity targets in Scotland and Wales is also summarised.
The main areas of emerging divergence, within the UK and with the EU, are identified according to the current proposals, and conclusions drawn on their implications especially in relation to the targets’ ambitions, not least because the UK Government has committed to adopting world leading environmental standards.