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England's environment on the mend

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 05 8:47 am    Post subject: England's environment on the mend  Reply with quote    

Defra Press release


England's coastland, rivers, farms, and environmentally sensitive land are reaping the results of action to safeguard and improve England's wildlife and countryside, according to scientific data released today.

Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said that the new data indicated a positive start to the first few years of implementing the England Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to make the changes necessary to conserve, enhance, and work with the grain of nature and ecosystems, rather than against them.

"These statistics show that the policies implemented by the Government and programmes funded and delivered by Defra, like the agri-environment schemes that now cover over 1.2 million hectares, are having an encouraging effect on biodiversity in England," he said.

"However, there is plenty of work still to be done. We have not yet reached our targets in any of these areas, and we cannot afford to relax our efforts to ensure that England's wildlife is safeguarded and improved for future generations.

"We need to keep working to improve the health of our natural environment through strategies like a co-ordinated, balanced approach to wildlife management, encouraging environmental stewardship, and getting more people involved in looking after the countryside."

Mr Knight said the government was committed to basing its environmental policies on hard evidence and constantly measuring their progress and effectiveness in reaching objectives.

The new data include positive trends in the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in coastal and urban areas, and SSSIs owned or managed by local authorities and companies.

"The new data show that 67.4 per cent of ecologically-sensitive SSSI land is in favourable condition - up from 56.9 per cent in March 2003," Mr Knight said.

"We have also seen an improvement in the amounts of hazardous substances entering our marine environment, and an steady increase in the biological health of our rivers."

Mr Knight paid tribute the many people, including volunteers, who collected and collated local data for the study.

"Without the army of volunteers who give so generously of their time and energy to help safeguard our natural environment, we would not have been able to achieve this," he said.

Nineteen of the indicators used to measure the progress of the England Biodiversity Strategy have been updated.


Notes for editors

1. Defra today published updates of 19 of the indicators used to measure the progress of the England Biodiversity Strategy.

2. The indicators were first published in December 2003 as Measuring Progress: baseline assessment and can be found on Defra's website at www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/biodiversity/biostrat/indicators/index.htm.

3. Defra aims to publish updates and improvements to these indicators when new data becomes available, which varies depending on the indicator. The data underlying the indicators are gathered on different cycles; some are gathered annually, or even monthly; others are updated on a three year, or longer, cycle. Several of the indicators relating to the assessment of populations of wild birds are now more robust due to changes in the way the data is collected or analysed.

4. This year, 19 indicators have been updated with new data, and over half of these have been assessed as making positive progress towards achieving the objective. The others all show either no change or an uncertain trend due to a lack of long-term data or short-term fluctuations in data.

5. Of particular note is the progress made by the indicators of SSSI condition, as these are all now showing positive changes in the direction of meeting the targets set in the baseline assessment.

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