MPs to consider how the Government can enhance healthy ecosystems
14 July 2020
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched a new inquiry, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, that will consider how best to protect and enhance biodiversity while considering nature-based solutions to climate change.
Decline in biodiversity
The inquiry launch comes at a time when biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history, and 15% of species in the UK are threatened with extinction. This is due to a number of factors, including climate change, urbanisation, pollution, invasive non-native species and aspects of agricultural and woodland management.
Limiting this decline is crucial as healthy ecosystems are vital for human existence, providing food, energy, sustaining air quality and being the sole sinks absorbing carbon emissions.
Factors to be considered
The Committee's inquiry will consider a range of factors, ranging from the state of UK biodiversity, how ecosystems can be protected and maintained and how nature-based solutions to climate change can complement biodiversity. It will have concluded its inquiry by the time of the now-postponed Biodiversity COP scheduled before COP26 next year.
Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne, said:
“From plant life to insects, from invertebrates to mammals, each species plays an important role in the health of ecosystems around the country. Sadly, we have a growing list of species threatened with extinction; such as the water vole being an ‘ecosystem engineer' generating new plant growth, and hedgehogs being an indicator of how healthy ecosystems are.
“Maintaining their numbers is crucial if we are to continue living healthy lives. Healthy ecosystems play an important role in food security, air quality and natural solutions to absorbing harmful emissions.
“During this inquiry, the Committee will be considering the current state of the UK's biodiversity, how we can prevent any further loss, and the opportunities for nature-based solutions for climate change.”
Terms of reference
The Committee is inviting written submissions on the following issues.
The state of biodiversity:
- How effectively is the Government monitoring the impact of UK activities on biodiversity, at home and abroad?
- How has the Government performed against the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and what further progress is needed?
- Where should the four nations prioritise resources to tackle biodiversity loss?
Evaluating measures to conserve and enhance biodiversity:
- How should the Environmental Land Management scheme maintain and improve biodiversity? What role might alternative land use play in delivering improvements to biodiversity under the ELM scheme?
- How effective are the new measures to enhance biodiversity within the Environment Bill, particularly biodiversity net gain and Nature Recovery Networks? Do these measures complement existing regulatory frameworks and address issues surrounding how to value nature?
- How should Nature Recovery Networks be planned, funded and delivered?
- How effective are other policies for conservation and enhancement of existing natural habitats, such as the Woodland Grant Schemes?
Co-ordination of UK environmental policy:
- How can policy be better integrated to address biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development?
- How can biodiversity and ecosystems help achieve the air, soil and water quality objectives in the 25 Year Environment Plan?
- How well is the UK addressing biodiversity loss in its Overseas Territories and in international development partnerships with other countries?
- What outcomes and protections should the UK Government be pushing for at the forthcoming UN negotiations on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15?
Economics and biodiversity:
- What are the possible approaches to balancing economic growth and conservation of nature and its contributions? Is there evidence these approaches work and can be implemented?
- What does the UK Government need to do to maximise human prosperity – in terms of health, economic, and social wellbeing—within the ecological and resource constraints of a finite planet? What alternative models and measures of economic welfare can feasibly help achieve this?
Pairing nature-based solutions to climate change with biodiversity:
- Which nature-based solutions are most effective in achieving both climate and biodiversity goals?
- What would constitute clear indicators of progress and cost-effectiveness of nature-based solutions and how should trade-offs and co-benefits associated with nature-based solutions, biodiversity and socioeconomic outcomes be considered?
- How can funding be mobilised to support effective nature-based solutions to climate change? How can the private sector be encouraged to contribute to funding?
Image: Julie Adams via Unsplash