Strong support from South West MPs as threatened species get new champions

Friday 4th March 2016

Nine MPs from across the South West are lending their political support to help our region’s wildlife – by adopting threatened species in a new Species Champions initiative.

Iconic and threatened English species are being ‘adopted’ by MPs across England, who are acting as ‘Species Champions’ to help improve the species future. From the Skylark to the Shrill carder-bee, 20 English species currently facing significant threats have been identified and put up for adoption. 

The initiative was launched this month by the a coalition of seven nature NGOs – RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Plantlife and Bat Conservation Trust. This follows a successful model in Scotland, and a trial in the South West of England in 2014.

South West MPs have come out in strong support, with nine species being adopted so far:
Scott Mann, Conservative MP for North Cornwall – Sea bass
Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon – Horrid ground-weaver spider
Harriett Baldwin, Conservative MP for West Worcestershire – Violet click beetle
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol North West – Shrill carder bee
Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton – Marsh Fritillary butterfly
Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes – Cirl bunting
Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East – Swift
Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud Valleys and Vale – Skylark
Rebecca Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane – Snipe.

Andrew Whitehouse, South West Manager at Buglife said “We are so pleased that MPs in our region have given such strong support to the Species Champions initiative.  From tiny Horrid ground-weaver spiders to beautiful Marsh fritillary butterflies, to acrobatic Swifts, these special species all need our help.  Through Species Champions our wildlife will now have a greater voice in Parliament.”

Species Champions will be able to learn first-hand about their species from wildlife NGOs and shown how we can help species populations recover. It is hoped the work will provide a brighter future for the species, spread that knowledge throughout the political community and shape policy to improve their future.

Martin Harper, RSPB Director of Conservation, commented “England is home to fantastic wildlife, but many of our most iconic species are in decline.  By working with MPs to tell the stories of these species, we hope to raise awareness of their plight and the practical action and policy decisions needed to turn their fortunes around. We’re delighted so many MPs have come on board to give nature a strong voice in Parliament.”

Gill Perkins, Conservation Manager for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust said: “Each of the species being championed symbolises the importance of diversity in maximising ecological resilience to environmental change and sadly they are also under threat. This is an opportunity for our generation of politicians to develop their collective expertise to address the challenges facing the fauna and flora of our country. Bumblebees in particular need representative champions, to help achieve the aims of the National Pollinator strategy. We hope that other MP's will sign up in the coming months to support other charismatic and vital bumblebees.”

The Species Champions Project invites Members of the UK and European Parliaments to lend their political support to the protection and promotion of threatened wildlife by becoming ‘Species Champions’ for a particular species.