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European Habitats Directive to be scrapped

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

This (pictured left) is one of many pages of tanagers from my book Birds of Venezuela that I once used whilst working as a naturalist guide, to help identify the extraordinary avian biodiversity present in the South American rain-forests. (more later) More species per km squared than the whole of Britain.

One has to ask oneself the question therefore, why would you want to tear up the only piece of legislation protecting species and their habitats, that works in England- one of the most nature depleted countries in the world?

Probably because those in power simply do not understand the critical value of biodiversity to our health and well being.

Environment Secretary George Eustice wants to amend the laws contained in wildlife protection legislation using the dangerously titled Brexit Freedoms Bill to cut red tape and, presumably, deregulate so as to incentivise economic growth.

Remember the promise Michael Gove made when introducing the Environment Act?

That wildlife protection legislation would not be diluted.

These European based laws have enabled us in the Forest of Dean to rebuff harmful development such as the expansion of Clearwell Farm’s intensive poultry units from damaging the SSSI horseshoe bat roosts upon which they sit. It is also the Habitats directives that have challenged the expansion of Stowe Hill Quarry in order for it not to harm irreversibly the internationally important tufa cascades at Slad Brook SSSI.(right)

Take a look at the state of Venezuela today: once one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. With environmental laws relaxed, rampant mining and deforestation has devastated the habitats the tanagers (see above) once called home. With rivers and land despoiled, and climate change wreaking havoc on whatever systems are left, the people are suffering from thirst and hunger as ecosystem services break down.'''

Without the strict regulations or impact assessments necessary to protect what wildlife we have remaining, we will also lose our own natural ecosystems and the services they provide. This total disregard for, and misunderstanding of our natural heritage, by a tory government that has lost the plot, has got to stop before we leave a wasteland of a countryside for our children to curse us for.

Chris McFarling

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