Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth. This includes all species of plants and animals and the natural systems that support them. Consequently, biodiversity is important for its own sake, but also because human survival depends upon it. It contributes to our economy, our health and wellbeing, and it enriches our lives.
Six years into the Biodiversity 2020 strategy, originally published in August 2011, the mission to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people, remains as important as ever. The most recent data on the 24 indicators and 50 measures, published in January 2016, revealed that 22 of the 44 measures assessed over the long term show an improvement, compared to 17 of the 41 measures that are assessed over the short term; while 13 measures showed a decline over the long term, and ten a decline in the short term. The next major update on these indicators is provisionally planned for June/July 2017.
Specifically, the measures that show improvement in both the short and long term, including sustainable fisheries, greenhouse gas removals from UK forests and expenditure on UK and international biodiversity, suggest that important progress has been made. Significant challenges remain however, particularly concerning pressures from invasive species and the status of pollinating insects. In addition, the indicators showed that public sector spending on biodiversity has declined in the short term.
More recently, the UN Biodiversity Conference, which took place in Mexico in December 2016, highlighted the need for governments and businesses to integrate biodiversity into their practices to halt biodiversity loss. While also in 2016, the government began payments to farmers as part of the New Environment Land Management Scheme (NELMS), with the overall priority of the scheme to promote biodiversity.
This timely symposium provides an excellent opportunity for local authorities, environmental organisations, developers, third sector organisations and other key stakeholders to examine the latest developments on achieving the biodiversity targets and assess the initiatives and programmes designed to promote biodiversity and conservation, as well as providing the opportunity to discuss the next steps to halt biodiversity loss in the future.
- Review the Biodiversity 2020 strategy, examine the latest indicators and measure progress towards achieving the strategic goals
- Explore the economic benefit of protecting and preventing biodiversity loss
- Consider ways that businesses can effectively integrate biodiversity into their practices to halt loss
- Examine the impact of the New Environment Land Management Scheme on promoting and protecting biodiversity
- Have the opportunity to discuss the impact of missing the Biodiversity 2020 targets and the next steps for the future of promoting biodiversity in the UK
- Explore ways to increase public awareness of the impact of biodiversity loss and increase engagement in conservation projects
- Gain insights into ways to encourage increased integration and collaboration between public bodies at the local level and focusing on implementing the biodiversity duty
- Assess the role and responsibility of Local Delivery Partnerships and Nature Improvement Areas in achieving the strategic goals and halting biodiversity loss
- Share best practice and interact with colleagues on the progress, successes and challenges of promoting and protecting biodiversity at the national and local levels