The Government has committed to protecting 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 as part of a global effort to protect nature and boost biodiversity.
Existing National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas already comprise approximately 26% of land in England.
Today’s announcement means an additional 4% – over 400,000 hectares, the size of the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined – will be protected to support the recovery of nature.
There has been a 68% decline in global wildlife populations since 1970 alone.
The commitment comes as the Prime Minister is set to sign the Leaders Pledge for Nature at a virtual United Nations event later today, committing to put nature and biodiversity on a road to recovery by 2030.
When he signs the Leaders Pledge for Nature, Boris Johnson will warn that countries must act now to reverse devastating biodiversity loss and prevent more species from being lost forever.
'We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets,’ he will say.
‘We must act now – right now. We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate.
‘Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.’
The Leaders Pledge for Nature commits world leaders to take ten urgent actions, including on sustainable food production, ending the illegal wildlife trade and implementing nature-based solutions for climate change.
According to a report from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) published earlier this month, the world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade.
Commenting on the report’s findings, the CBD executive secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, said: ‘This flagship report underlines that “humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations.”
‘Many good things are happening around the world and these should be celebrated and encouraged. Nevertheless, the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying.
‘Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity.’