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RSPB launches ambitious campaign for global wildlife

Last modified: 09 March 2011

Backlit reeds

The RSPB launches the most ambitious campaign in its 122 year history today in an effort to end the continuing threat to wildlife in the UK and across the world.

In 2010 the world failed to meet a global target to halt the decline in biodiversity. A new target was set by the EU for 2020, and UK governments have signed up to it.

The RSPB’s Stepping Up for Nature campaign aims to set out a roadmap to 2020 and encourage Government, businesses and individuals to Step Up and play their part for nature. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has welcomed the campaign and will be speaking at the official launch in London today.

Farmland bird populations have fallen by half, some of our best loved native birds including cuckoos, house sparrows and nightingales are in sharp decline and once widespread species like corncrakes, turtle doves and red backed shrike are desperately clinging on in small pockets.

The greater horseshoe bat is now one of the country’s rarest species, just a few populations of the once widespread high brown fritillary butterfly remain, eel populations have crashed by 95 per cent and one in five wild flowers are threatened with extinction.

The face of our countryside has changed dramatically. Eighty per cent of lowland heathland has disappeared, 100 hectares of saltmarsh are being lost each year, almost three quarters of rivers in England and Wales are failing European standards and in 60 years we have lost 95 per cent of our wildflower meadows.

Across the world our rainforest continues to be destroyed, the global temperature is rising and marine life is under constant threat from overfishing.

Mike Clarke, RSPB chief executive, said: “When we missed the 2010 biodiversity target we failed nature. We can’t let that happen again.

“Over the next decade we have the opportunity to fix the problems that are causing the loss of wildlife in the UK and across the world. We have a choice here, and if our politicians make the right choices then we can create a space for nature in our countryside, ensure vital habitats are not lost and bring back those species on the brink.

“But this is a process we must all be involved in. Everyone can do their bit. If we can encourage people from all walks of life to take millions of steps for nature, then those we elect will be forced to sit up and take notice.

“From schoolchildren creating a wildlife garden in the corner of their playground right up to ministers creating a vital piece of legislation that protects our natural environment, we all have a part to play between now and 2020.

“This is the most ambitious campaign the RSPB has launched in its long history, and the challenge ahead of us is huge. But the prize on offer is even bigger. A healthy natural world where all life can thrive.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “The natural environment is one of the areas where the Big Society can really make an impact. The RSPB is the Big Society in action, harnessing the passion, commitment and expertise of its one million members to achieve significant results for the natural environment, and I wish them every success in the most ambitious campaign in their 122 year history.

“By all working together – Government, business, communities and individuals – we can make a real difference to our country by reducing the loss of our many species and habitats.” 

As part of the launch of the campaign the charity will be handing in its Letter to the Future to Number 10, Downing Street. The letter has been signed by more than 355,000 people over the past two years and calls on the Government not to cut funding for nature conservation in our straitened economic times.

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