The government has today announced an £8m funding boost for more than 30 conservation projects in the UK’s Overseas Territories, in a bid to stem the decline of rare species and vulnerable habitats.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the funding would be released through its Darwin Plus grant scheme over the course of the next three years.
Albatross species in the southern Atlantic overseas territories, feral cats and invasive green iguanas on in Cayman’s Sister Islands, shark populations in Anguilla, marine turtles in the Ascension islands and coral reefs in the Indian Ocean are among the habitats and species set to benefit from the funding, the department said.
International environment minister Lord Zac Goldsmith Goldsmith said World Environment Day provided a “stark reminder of why we need to take urgent action to reverse global biodiversity loss”.
“The Darwin Plus funding announced today will support the magnificent biodiversity hotspots that make up our Overseas Territories, which are so threatened by climate change,” he said. “It will restore precious ecosystems, prevent the extinction of some of the world’s most wonderful species, and at the same time transform the lives of the poorest communities.”
The Darwin Plus grant programme had supported more than 120 individual marine, terrestrial and freshwater conservation projects over the last decade, Goldsmith added.
Defra said the scheme would help the UK meet a number of biodiversity targets, including its recent pledge to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. The UK has also previously promised to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030, in addition to committing to the ‘30 by 30′ goal at home.
However, the government is facing mounting pressure to significantly boost the amount of funding earmarked for nature restoration amid criticism over its failure to match its green promises with action and investment. Yesterday the Wildlife Trusts called on the government to earmark £1bn a year to nature restoration in the UK alone, arguing that current government efforts to protect the UK’s land, nature and seas remain ineffective, underpowered, underfunded and largely siloed off only to Defra.
It came as Defra also announced yesterday that the UK has joined a coalition of countries that are committed to supporting Peru’s effort to reduce deforestation in its part of the Amazon by 2025.
The joint declaration of intent will see the UK “work closely” with Peru to pursue sustainable and forest-friendly business solutions, such as Indigenous-community led agroforestry, the Department said.
The declaration is a continuation of an initiative first launched by Peru, Germany and Norway in 2014, with the UK and US signing on for the first time as new partners today.
Lord Goldsmith said the move was part of the UK’s ongoing drive to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change. “Through our leadership of the G7 and COP26, we are putting nature at the heart of the global response to the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change,” he said.
In related nature-funding news, meanwhile, the Scottish Government has announced plans to spend £22m this tax year on projects that restore Scotland’s degraded peatlands, in a bid to support habitats and climate change mitigation.
The funding for 2021-22 will be distributed to five partners, including NatureScot and Scottish Water, to deliver a range of new and existing restoration projects across Scotland, the Scottish Government said.
“Scotland is centre stage this year with COP26 in Glasgow and our significant investment in peatland restoration is just one of the ways we are demonstrating our world leading climate action,” said Scottish environment minister Mairi McAllan.