A federation of independent wildlife conservation charities has launched a public appeal to raise £30 million to start helping nature to recover at least 30% of the UK’s land and sea by 2030.
The Wildlife Trusts warn that hedgehogs, red squirrels, water voles, cuckoos and basking sharks are among the species suffering serious declines in recent decades, and natural systems are not functioning as they should.
A loss of wild places and the breaking up of the habitat that remains has had a huge impact on nature, the groups warn.
The want to see 30% of land and sea better protected, better connected and put into recovery for nature by 2030, by restoring habitat from wildflower meadows to woodlands, wetlands and rewilding.
Their 30 By 30 fundraising efforts aim to help start that process, by buying land to expand and join up their existing nature reserves, as well as working with other landowners to bring back wildlife to more of the countryside.
Projects across England range from restoring lost fenland in Lincolnshire as part of efforts to manage water and link up nature reserves, to repairing peatland in Lancashire as a “carbon farm” that will also provide habitat for wildlife.
There are also plans to reintroduce beavers to the Eastern Yar Valley on the Isle of Wight to help look after a complex of wetland reserves, and to buy and convert low-grade agricultural land into nature areas near homes in Warwickshire.
The Wildlife Trusts are also calling for the Government to introduce a new “wildbelt” designation in England to protect land that is being restored for nature, so efforts to create or restore natural habitat or rewild an area are secure from future changes to land use.
While the Government reports that 28% of land and 24% of the seas is under protection, this include designations such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which do not necessarily protect nature.
According to the Wildlife Trusts, just 10% of the UK’s land is protected for wildlife under the sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) designation – and much of this land is in an unfavourable condition.
There are other places such as local wildlife sites which can provide for nature, but it is not clear how good a state they are in and they can be threatened by development and a lack of management, the trusts warn.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal – to raise £30 million and kickstart the process of securing at least 30% of land and sea in nature’s recovery by 2030.
“We will buy land to expand and join up our nature reserves; we’ll work with others to show how to bring wildlife back to their land, and we’re calling for nature’s recovery through a new package of policy measures, including big new ideas like wildbelt.”
He said that achieving 30% by 2030 would mean wilder landscapes that store carbon and provide “on-your-doorstep nature” for people to enjoy.
Alison Steadman, actor and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “I am supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ inspiring 30 By 30 appeal because we all need nature in our lives once more.
“This ambitious campaign will unite people in working for a common goal that benefits us all – one of nature’s recovery.
“We can all do something to help wildlife thrive again – we must do this for nature, for ourselves and for future generations.”
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