Plants are essential to everyone's lives. Welcome to Plantlife.
Help us send an important message to Government
September 07 2010
The Comprehensive Spending Review will be unveiled by the Coalition Government on 20 October.
It is still not too late to persuade those in power not to slash spending on conservation and wildlife-friendly farming.
As a Plantlife supporter please help us to do this by adding your name to the letter below and emailing or posting it to both the Secretary of State for the Environment and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Please send to:
Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Rt Hon George Osborne MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
11 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AB
Don't cut the countryside
July 14th 2010
On the 30th anniversary of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, its members, including Plantlife, have issued an unprecedented warning about what the future would hold should the Government decide to slash spending on conservation and wildlife-friendly farming.
The organisation will share its concerns with MPs at a parliamentary reception this evening (Wednesday), held to mark 30 years of working together for the natural environment.
Paul de Zylva, Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “We all know the new Government will have a hard job making difficult and far-reaching decisions about where the axe should fall on public spending."
“There may be a temptation to see conservation as an easy win, but in reality they need to think very hard before making cuts that could have profound and perhaps irreversible consequences for England’s wildlife, landscapes and people.”
An austere countryside
Link fears an austerity countryside, where the loss of public money for protected sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) has left the country’s best wildlife sites sadly degraded.
Reedbeds are dry and clogged with brambles; heathlands have vanished as scrub begins to takeover. Wetlands have dwindled and rivers and canals have become clogged by invasive plants which threaten native species.
"...in the case of conservation, cuts are a false economy – short term savings would translate into huge long term costs for our economy and our national well-being."
The loss of money for wildlife-friendly farming has seen farmland birds resume their slide into extinction. Bat populations are clinging onto survival in isolated pockets, facing starvation due to the dwindling insect populations, while the country’s flower meadows have all but vanished.
England’s uplands have become degraded; their wildlife is in decline, and their ability to lock away carbon and provide clean drinking water for millions sadly reduced.
On the coasts, cuts could undo years of work to manage remaining and newly created coastal habitats such as saltmarsh and saline lagoons, impacting wildlife and flood protection.
At sea, less management and enforcement would see a further decline in wildlife-rich reefs and seagrass beds that shelter species like seahorses and pipefish. Illegal fishing would increase, putting even more pressure on fish numbers.
There are fewer people too. Without cash to keep paths and bridleways open, huge swathes of the English countryside and coast are effectively closed to millions.
Long term costs
"A healthy natural environment is not a luxury but fundamental to our existence."
Paul de Zylva said: “Such a picture is not an exaggeration, but nor is it an inevitability. Minsters will need to make difficult choices about which areas of public spending offer the best value for money."
“We want to make clear that in the case of conservation, cuts are a false economy – short term savings would translate into huge long term costs for our economy and our national well-being. Defra and its agencies like Natural England spend just 0.5 per cent of the Government’s budget, yet their investment in the countryside brings huge benefits in wildlife, clean air and water, flood alleviation, carbon sequestration and pollination. A healthy natural environment is not a luxury but fundamental to our existence.”
He added: “The Deputy Prime Minister has said it would be morally wrong to leave our children and grandchildren with huge debts. It would be just as immoral to bequeath them an impoverished environment and an England that is in many ways diminished.”