The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has urged the government to do more for nature after a public survey said not enough was being done for UK wildlife and habitats.
The UK Government’s performance in protecting the environment has come under scrutiny in Nature Check 2013, a report published by 41 environmental organisations including ZSL, under the umbrella of Wildlife and Countryside Link .
According to the report, the proportion of nature commitments on which the Government is failing has steadily worsened during its term in office. Areas in which it is reported to be falling short include protection of the Green Belt, farm animal welfare, designating the full network of Marine Conservation Zones and reversing wildlife declines.
ZSL UK & Europe Conservation Programme Manager, Alison Debney said "More than half of all UK species, such as the harbour seal and the European eel, are declining in the long term along with vital habitats such as saltmarsh. ZSL is trying to deliver the conservation of these wonderful species and habitats for and it expects the support of the UK Government to be able to do so."
Some areas showed progress according to the report, including reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, work on ash dieback, and international work to protect elephants, rhinos and whales. The report urges the Government to implement the Common Agricultural Policy so that it delivers as much as possible for wildlife and the countryside.
Alongside the report, the organisations have published a survey of more than 2,000 adults, which has revealed the love people have for the British countryside. 83% of British adults believe the natural environment should be protected at all costs, while only a quarter think the Government is doing enough to protect our landscapes and wildlife.
Speaking on behalf of the 41 organisations, Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Director, Dr Elaine King, said: "David Cameron promised the greenest Government ever. Using the Government’s own promises as a yardstick, today’s findings show he’s failed to stick to his plan.
"Our survey shows that the majority of people want politicians to do more to protect nature and the countryside. The message from the public is clear – they want healthy seas and landscapes providing rich habitats for thriving wildlife. But sadly, most species in this country are in decline.
"We’re told an economy in crisis is a higher priority than nature in crisis. Yet the Government is missing a huge opportunity – a healthy environment helps the economy and enhances people’s health and wellbeing.
“Our wetlands alone provide a home for millions of migrating birds and other wildlife, but they also give us £350 million worth of flood protection a year through storing rainwater that would otherwise run off our roads and fields into our towns. Without wetlands, the cost of resulting flood damage would need to be met by businesses and Government and passed on to the public through higher prices and higher taxes.”