Conservationists and politicians have criticised the UK government for its decision to temporarily stop publishing new data on the state of the country’s wildlife and habitats in 2022, the same year as a landmark UN biodiversity summit.
Figures published today by the Department for Food, Rural Affairs & Environment (Defra) show a deteriorating picture for habitats, as well as for priority species, such as otters and red squirrels; woodland birds and butterflies that are reliant on specific habitats, such as the Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon).
The UK, like many other countries, has failed to arrest declines in biodiversity in recent years despite signing up to global targets to protect nature. In April 2022, nations are expected to renew their commitment to act by agreeing new biodiversity targets for 2030 at the COP15 summit in Kunming, China.
However, Defra said that it will “pause” publishing new data on the state of UK biodiversity in 2022 to enable a “thorough review” of the indicators, such as the pressures from invasive species or the health of bird populations and other animals. Publication will not resume until 2023.
Mark Avery, a conservationist and former conservation director of the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says: “It seems like Defra’s response to a biodiversity crisis is to stop publishing the data that show it’s happening. That’s not very good, is it?”
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