Conserving life on earth is essential if we want a happy and wealthy future for the planet, but somehow it does not seem to rise to the top of the agenda of politicians and at the moment it seems to be lower on the agenda than ever. Yet wildlife was in the past seen to be a key part of sustainable development – what has gone wrong?
Wildlife provides direct health, recreation and ecosystem service benefits to people – we depend a healthy environment; because we have a moral obligation to allow the survival of the wonderful species with which we share the Earth; and because we must pass on to our children a planet that has not been unnecessarily defiled. We are indeed an integral part of life on earth and our long term wellbeing aligns closely with the wellbeing of wildlife.
On human terms the destruction of biodiversity is a slow process (although in geological terms it is happening with frightening rapidity) hence biodiversity conservation is seen as a long term issue while economic issues are always very immediate and pressing. This problem is well established and the concept of ‘Sustainable Development’ is based on the incorporation of long term objectives into short term actions.
The seminal text that got Sustainable Development onto the agenda of the world’s governments back in 1987 was “Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development”. This document has a whole chapter on biodiversity conservation (species and ecosystems), the intro states that:-
"Conservation of living natural resources – plants, animals, and micro-organisms, and the non-living elements of the environment on which they depend – is crucial for development.” “The challenge facing nations today is no longer deciding whether conservation is a good idea, but rather how it can be implemented in the national interest and within the means available in each country."
Over the last 28 years the conservation of biodiversity seems to have dropped down the Sustainable Development agenda. It is hard for wildlife charities to understand how or why this has happened. There can be few things more blatantly unsustainable than the extinction of species and the destruction of ecosystems.
Recent decisions by the current Government have been disheartening, it took ages to even confirm that there was a biodiversity minister in post and so far the only obvious wildlife affecting decision, in the six weeks since his appointment, that Rory Stewart has taken has been to allow farmers to use banned bee-killing agrotoxins on oilseed rape. This decision has thrown confidence in the Government’s commitment to the National Pollinator Strategy into disarray. Buglife has asked to meet the Biodiversity Minister so that we can propose ways that we can start to rebuild trust and benefit pollinators and other bugs so that the future is more sustainable.
The remaining glimmer of hope that we have is that the Government has committed to a 25 year wildlife recovery plan, we must work hard to make sure that this is a plan that will work for bugs, but only the public can force Government to act to look after our planet.