11 June 2014
Article by Nia Seaton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
In May 2013, the State of Nature report was published by a coalition of 25 wildlife organisations. The report considered the state of nature in the UK and concluded that of the 3,148 species studied as part of the report 60 per cent in the UK had declined over recent decades with 1 in 10 species in the UK under threat of disappearing.
In his initial response to the findings of the report the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, stated:
Although the report presents some notable conservation success stories, such as increases in species such as horseshoe bat, red kite and otter, the report clearly highlights dramatic declines in a range of species. It is clear that we cannot have more of the same or continue as we are. [my emphasis]
Almost a year on to the publication of the Report the Environment and Sustainability Committee undertook a roundtable session on 21 May to assess the scale of progress made during the last 12 months. In 2010, the Sustainability Committee of the previous Assembly also undertook an inquiry to consider why the Welsh Government failed to meet the 2010 target to halt biodiversity loss and made 19 recommendations for improvement. Progress against these recommendations was also considered.
What did the witnesses have to tell the Committee?
The Committee heard evidence from representatives from the coalition that wrote the Report. Whilst they welcomed the political support for action to tackle biodiversity declines they expressed frustration at the pace of progress made. The organisations stated that there is an urgent need for the Welsh Government to set out a clear vision of what achieving our biodiversity targets will look like in Wales and to publish a strategy setting out the actions that will be taken to deliver change on the ground. Speaking in the session, Katie-Jo Luxton, Director of RSPB Cymru stated:
The piece that we have yet to see from Government is a clear strategy or plan as to what it is that needs to be recovered by when and a really clear idea of what success would look like, because so much flows from that. The resources of the other sectors—the private sector, the third sector—and across the public sector—can be galvanised towards the same shared endeavour. That clarity is lacking.
You can watch the full session on Senedd TV here. The Committee has written to the Minister for Natural Resources and Food asking for more information on progress made and may consider some of the issues raised during its general scrutiny with the Minister at the Royal Welsh Show in July.