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Johnson pledges to protect 30% of land for biodiversity

Words: Huw Morris
Quantock Hills AONB Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The government has promised to protect an extra 4 per cent of the UK’s land as part of a global drive to preserve nature and boost biodiversity.

Existing national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas already make up around 26 per cent of land in England.

Under the pledge, an extra 4 per cent, amounting to more than 400,000 hectares will also be protected to help nature recover. The government has also promised to work with the devolved administrations to agree an approach across the UK as well as with landowners and civil society to explore how best to increase the size and value of protected land.

The move came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a “Leaders Pledge for Nature” at a virtual United Nations event, in which governments commit to put nature and biodiversity on a road to recovery by 2030. The event is in response to a 68 per cent decline in global wildlife populations since 1970.

“We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate,” Johnson told the signing ceremony.

“Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all.”

According to a recent report by the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty agreed at the UN Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992, the world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the past decade.

Elizabeth Mrema, the convention’s executive secretary, said biodiversity and nature are now at “an unprecedented level in the history of mankind” and that “we’re the most dangerous species in global history”.