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Welsh Government triples peatland restoration in nature recovery promise

Credit: Patrick Olner

This week an expert led ‘Biodiversity Deep Dive’- commissioned by Welsh Government to assess how nature recovery across land and sea can best be accelerated- has set out its recommendations. In quick response, Welsh Government tripled its peatland restoration targets while promising further action to restore Wales’ wildlife and plants.

Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is a leading threat to humanity. The restoration of our natural world is essential for the free services that complex ecosystems provide us- whether that’s fresh water to drink or healthy soils for our food to grow.

Like much of the developed world, in Wales, the loss of forests, the plundering of seas, and the pollution caused by human activity has led to the vanishing of around half of Wales’ animal and plant life.

To address this, the recommendations centre around the United Nation’s ’30 by 30’ goal, which aims to protect and effectively manage 30% of the planet’s marine and 30% of the planet’s terrestrial environment by 2030. The Deep Dive is released ahead of a landmark UN Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Canada in December, where global leaders will meet to agree targets to combat the nature emergency.

The Minister also announced today the establishment of an independent expert working group to monitor Wales’ progress against the targets.

The Biodiversity Deep Dive sets the following recommendations:

  • Transform Wales’ protected sites portfolio so that it is better, bigger, and more effectively connected so that plants and wildlife are able to travel and adapt to climate change
  • Create a network of Nature Recovery Exemplar Areas across a range of different semi-natural habitats and identify opportunity of Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs)
  • Increase the footprint of the Marine Protected Areas network
  • Unlock the potential of designated landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) so they deliver more for nature
  • Ensure land and marine planning decisions consider biodiversity and that good decisions are incentivised
  • Build a strong foundation for future delivery through capacity building, behaviour change, awareness raising and skills development
  • Develop and adapt monitoring and evidence frameworks to measure progress against 30 by 30

Speaking from Wales’ National Botanical Gardens where a panel of the country’s top nature academics and practitioners met to discuss the Deep Dive, Minister for Climate Change, Julie James promised to turn advice into action, as she called for a ‘Team Wales’ effort to hit the ‘30 by 30’ target.

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:

“If we give nature a helping hand it returns the gift in the bucket-load.

“Today’s Biodiversity Deep Dive helps us urgently rethink our relationship with the natural world and how to make the next best choices which benefits us and the future generations of Wales.

“That’s why, with the Minister for Rural Affairs, we are tripling our peatlands restoration targets to boost our insect and bird life and bring security to our fresh water supply in Wales.

The United Nations has said that urgent action taken over the next decade will determine the seriousness of the climate and nature emergencies.

The Minister continued: “We need a Team Wales effort to drive a decade of decisive action so we can put the breaks on the biodiversity decline and jump-start the restoration of our ecosystems to their former glory. Our health, happiness and future depend on it.”

RSPB Cymru and biodiversity deep dive panel member Sharon Thompson, said:

“As we approach the COP15 Biodiversity Summit in Montreal in December, where we want global leaders to agree to ambitious targets to restore nature, this Deep Dive couldn’t have come at a more important time. We are in a Nature and Climate Emergency, and with the potential of really significant threats to nature elsewhere, making sure the recommendations of the Deep Dive are urgently turned in action in Wales is critical.”