Latest Species Champions News

Species Champions call for UK leadership on COP15

14 July 2022

Caroline Lucas, the round-headed rampion champion, led a Backbench Business debate on the Convention on Biological Diversity’s upcoming COP15 – the first ever time COP15 has been raised in a parliamentary debate. Cross-party MPs banded together to share their passion for nature, emphasise the importance of COP15, and call for the Prime Minister to attend the conference and leverage the UK’s international influence to ensure COP15 becomes nature’s ‘Paris moment’.

Species Champions Chris Grayling (hedgehog), Olivia Blake (hen harrier), Hilary Benn (water vole), and Kerry McCarthy (swift) joined Caroline in speaking up for nature and their species in the debate. Together, throughout the debate, over 30 species received mentions; setting the record for the most species named in a House of Commons debate.

The new DEFRA Minister, Steve Double, confirmed that the Conservative Party are committed to COP15 and it is a high priority for them. Against the backdrop of the Conservative Party leadership contest, Minister Double could not speak on behalf of a future Prime Minister who has not been selected yet but confirmed that he wants the Prime Minister to attend and he guarantees a senior level representation will be at the summit.

James Cartlidge turns out early for turtle doves

24 June 2022

James Cartlidge MP, the turtle dove champion, ventured out with the RSPB at the break of dawn in the hopes of spotting a turtle dove. Despite their rapidly shrinking British range, areas in and around James’ constituency are some of our last hotspots for the turtle dove and the search party toured a selection of locales where these elusive birds were recently seen. Unfortunately for James and the group, despite their early rise maximising their chances of hearing and potentially seeing a turtle dove, their search was without success. All was not lost however, as throughout the expedition James got to see first-hand the types of habitats and environmental land management measures necessary to support turtle doves.  

Turtle doves are becoming rarer in the UK, with their breeding populations here having declined by 98% over the past 50 years. The two main drivers behind their decline are a shortage of suitable seed-rich habitats on their breeding grounds and unsustainable hunting practices along their migratory route through Western Europe. These factors can be remedied through encouraging agri-environmental schemes that incentivise high-quality and accessible seed-rich habitat for turtle doves, ideally near scrub and overgrown hedges for nesting and shallow ponds for drinking, and through measures that lower levels of hunting along their flyways. It is important that both issues are addressed in tandem, as fixing one without the other is unlikely to lead to turtle dove population recovery. 

Anthony Mangnall searches for cirls in South Devon

20 May 2022

Anthony Mangnall MP, the champion for the cirl bunting, joined the RSPB and local South Devon farmers for a farm walk to observe current agri-environment management practices designed to work for both food and nature. Whilst no cirl buntings were spotted along the route, farmers and landowners adopting nature-positive farming techniques has helped drive the success story of cirl buntings in Devon. It is crucial that the Government’s environmental land management schemes provide proper support for farmers to unlock their potential in tackling the climate and nature crisis alongside continuing to feed the nation. 

Duncan Baker shines a light on the plight of the glow worm

06 April 2022

We are pleased to welcome Duncan Baker, the MP for North Norfolk, to the role of Species Champion for the glow worm. Glow worms currently do not have any legal protection in the UK and their populations are in decline as a result of habitat loss, pesticide use, and light pollution impacting upon their breeding.

Celebrating 6 years of working together

01 March 2022

Today (March 1st) we are celebrating the 6th anniversary of the launch of the Species Champions project. Since 2016, MPs from across the country have been joining our project to take a stand against species decline by championing their species’ conservation needs and making the case for nature-positive change more widely. We are proud to have over 50 MP species champions rallying around the project, all working hard to speak up for our threatened wildlife.  
As many of our MP species champions are marking this milestone by sharing on social media their stories and achievements within the project, the partnership wants to thank all the MPs for all the effort and dedication they have put into getting involved with the scheme and driving their species recoveries. We look forward to continuing to work together on the conservation and restoration of our precious wildlife.

Kevin Hollinrake supports a strong Joint Fisheries Statement for our seas

23 February 2022

Kevin Hollinrake, puffin champion, hosted a drop-in session with the Future Fisheries Alliance (FFA) on the UK Government and devolved administrations’ draft Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) in Parliament. The JFS will set the future direction of UK fisheries management and fisheries, both in terms of overfishing and damaging practices, continue to be the biggest direct cause of biodiversity loss in the ocean, so a robust JFS is needed to help revive our marine environment for seabirds and other vulnerable species.

The event advocated for a strong JFS to include within it timebound commitments to deliver sustainable and climate-smart fisheries, action to tackle seabird bycatch and the rollout of Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras on fishing vessels.

The final JFS is due to be published in November 2022.

The MP Species Champions Newsletter is back

08 February 2022

After going into hibernation in 2020, we are excited to see the MP Species Champions Newsletter return. The latest edition, Issue 9 – Winter 2022, has been published and can be found here.

Thank you to our 59 MP Species Champions

06 November 2019

The Species Champions partnership organisations would like to thank all the MPs who have taken part in the Species Champions project, working on behalf of their species in Parliament, their constituencies and in the media. In particular we wish to thank Richard Benyon, Alastair Burt, Peter Heaton-Jones, Norman Lamb, Claire Perry and Caroline Spelman who are standing down from Parliament and won’t be seeking re-election.  While Parliament is dissolved the project is suspended but we will be back in action soon after the General Election, and in the meantime we will review the project and the species being championed to make sure that MPs can have maximum impact for our threatened wildlife.

Species Champions take part in Restoring Nature and Climate Change Debate

28 October 2019

A popular petition which called for the restoration of nature on a massive scale to help stop climate breakdown received in excess of 100,000 signatures, triggering a Westminster Hall debate. Several MP species champions took part; Daniel Zeichner MP led the debate on behalf of Petitions Committee, Kerry McCarthy MP and Caroline Nokes MP gave speeches, while there were interventions from Barry Sheerman MP, Tracey Crouch MP, and Caroline Lucas MP.

MPs call for the Environment Bill to help their species

28 October 2019

The Second Reading of the Environment Bill attracted several MP species champions and Chris Grayling MP (hedgehog) called for housing to be built in a way that is sustainable for the surrounding countryside and Derek Thomas MP (Manx shearwater) asked the Secretary of State to look at funding of nature recovery programmes.