Letter to Secretary of State, October 2022

BSBI calls on UK Government to honour its commitment to our wild flora

The letter below was sent to the Rt. Hon. Ranil Jayawardena MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on 3rd October 2022.

*UPDATE* On Tuesday 13th December 2022, we received this response from Trudy Harrison MP, Minister for Natural Environment and Land Use.

Dear Mr Jayawardena,

We are writing on behalf of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) to express our concerns over recent government announcements that we believe, as do many other environmental organisations, will significantly reverse the UK’s ambitions for nature recovery over the coming decade.

Our wild flora is in a perilous state, as a result of decades of agricultural intensification, increased development (houses, roads, railways, extractive industries) and more insidious threats such as air and water pollution, unsustainable land use practices in the uplands (over-grazing, burning, plantation forestry), the spread of invasive non-native species (INNS) and, in recent decades, climate change.

The government’s plans to revoke hundreds of laws that protect wild places and standards for water quality, pollution and the use of pesticides will make matters worse, as will the implementation of new planning infrastructure which threatens to weaken vital protections for habitats and wildlife. We are also concerned that the proposed review of the long-awaited Environmental Land Management schemes – which would reward farmers for restoring nature, preventing pollution and climate-proofing their business – will lead to reduced ambition and consequently financial support for activities that help combat both the nature and climate crises.

The BSBI is a charity with 1000s of supporters committed to conserving Britain’s wild flora. Through their voluntary recording, the BSBI is able to provide decision-makers (conservationists, land managers, policy-makers) and academics with the evidence they need to make sensible decisions about our nation’s wildlife – without a healthy wild flora many species dependent on wild plants will suffer. Uniquely amongst British environmental organisations, BSBI provides robust evidence on the current state of our wild flora, how it has changed and the pressures it is facing.

In March 2023 BSBI will be launching our third Atlas of the British and Irish flora. This will be equivalent to a modern ‘Domesday Book’ for plants, cataloguing what we have as well as what has happened to them since the 1950s. It will be the most powerful statement ever produced on the state of our nation’s wild flora and will contain some extremely worrying trends for many species, as a result of habitat loss, pollution and climate change.

If we are to reverse these declines then we will need a government that is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s wildlife, not one that is prepared to relax laws that protect wildlife and remove funding of schemes that will help restore and recover what we have lost. We strongly recommend that the government sticks to its original commitments to reverse biodiversity loss and recover nature for future generations to enjoy.

Yours sincerely,

Lynne Farrell (BSBI President)

Julia Hanmer (BSBI Chief Executive)

cc Jim McMahon MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Tim Farron MP.

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Read BSBI's nature conservation policy.

Find out more about our research and the Atlas 2020 project.