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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what happened in the last month. For updates from our working groups, please go to the policy hub. If you would like to submit news items for our monthly e-bulletin, please contact Ellie Ward. To subscribe please enter your email here.

November 2021

Ellie's Horizon Scan

On 9 November, 648 days after it first entered Parliament, the Environment Act received Royal Assent. Thanks to parliamentarians, civil servants and campaigners, the UK now has a robust framework of post-Brexit environmental law in place. With the Act in place, the challenge now moves to implementation, particularly of environmental targets. The Act commits the Government to setting long term targets on air quality, water, biodiversity, resource efficiency and species abundance. We can expect consultations on the exact shape of those targets in 2022, with much riding on the outcome. Link will be working hard to secure targets (and delivery plans) ambitious enough to match the scale of the ecological challenge we face.

Environmental Policy News

Wildlife Crime Report shows toxic combination of rising reports and falling convictions

On 25 November Link’s Wildlife Crime Group launched the fourth annual Wildlife Crime Report, highlighting wildlife crimes reported in 2020. The report, drawn from data collected by Link members working at the wildlife crime frontline, reveals rising reports of crime against iconic British species, including badgers (up 36%) and raptors (up 100%). At the same time efforts by police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring wildlife criminals to justice have been hampered by Covid-19, with prosecutions for breaches of the Hunting Act 2004 more than halving.

The report was launched at an online event featured remarks from Luke Pollard MP, with panellists from the League Against Cruel Sports, Badger Trust, Naturewatch Foundation, RSPB and Plantlife International. A recording of the event can be accessed here. As Wildlife Crime Group Chair Martin Sims told the Guardian ‘‘Wildlife crime is something that should concern everyone. It inflicts pain, harm and loss for much-loved wildlife and fuels wider criminality against people and property. It is high time the government steps in to treat wildlife crime with the seriousness it deserves.”

Octopus, crab and lobster sentience recognised

A long-running campaign to secure acknowledgement of the ability of octopuses, crabs, lobsters and similar animals to feel positive and negative feelings (known as sentience) reached its culmination in November. Link, along with a range of other animal welfare organisations, has been calling for the Animal Sentience Bill, introduced by the Government in May to recognise animal sentience in UK law, to cover cephalopods (including octopuses) and decapod crustaceans (including lobsters and crabs) as well as vertebrates.

Following the publication of an in-depth report from LSE setting out the strong scientific evidence of cephalopod and decapod crustacean sentience, the Government tabled an amendment to the Animal Sentience Bill on 19 November, recognising the sentience of octopuses, crabs, lobsters and similar animals. The updated bill is due to have its report stage in the Lords on 6 December; Link’s latest briefing can be read here.

What will the next fifty years bring for whale populations?

As COP26 concluded this month, another environmental international gathering celebrated a major anniversary – the International Whaling Commission (IWC) turned 75. Established in 1946, the IWC secured global agreement to a commercial whaling moratorium in 1982 which it now works to enforce, with the aim of bringing whale populations back to the pre-industrial whaling levels. Whales play a critical role in keeping marine ecosystems healthy, making the full recovery of whale populations an ecological as well as ethical imperative.

A group of whale and marine conservation organisations, including members of Link’s Marine Mammals Group, came together on 30 November to mark the 75th anniversary, and to advocate for a high-ambition vision for the IWC’s next 50 years, proposing that the Commission drives a significant scaling up of activity to recover whale populations. In the words of the vision document ‘’It is time for the IWC to adopt the vision to be the centre of global, regional and local efforts to ensure the full recovery and health of all cetacean populations, safeguard their welfare and maximise their ecological contributions to healthy oceans.’’

Bulletin Board

Link blogs you may have missed:

Trees on Farms: increasing agricultural ecosystem services from trees
Macarena Cárdenas, Research Manager at Earthwatch Europe, writes on how to increase the uptake and positive environmental impact of tree planting on farms in the UK

Recycling our land, for the sake of the countryside

Philippa Oppenheimer, Land Use Officer at CPRE, writes on the launch of a new report on brownfield land supply in England.

Hope for Britain’s degraded biodiversity?

Nida Al-Fulaij, Conservation Research Manager at PTES, shares why we must take a precautionary approach in the quinquennial review, giving protection to species that are vulnerable to extinction now.

Blueprint's Water Resources Webinars

Link's Blueprint for Water Group are delivering a series of webinars to support environmental stakeholders to get to grips with regional planning. The series will give insight into the policy framework and shared challenges of regional planning, and provide a forum for reps to discuss issues faced locally. Registration details for the final webinar on 7th December can be found here.

New nature investment hub to launch

GFI Hive from the Green Finance Institute is launching 7th December and will found at

 The new hub is intended to increase private investment in nature restoration, nature-based solutions and nature-positive outcomes in and for the UK by:

  • Acting as a knowledge hub on private investment in nature to increase shared learning, best practices and investment appetite;
  • Identifying barriers and co-designing solutions to private investment in nature - working with the finance sector in addition to government, business, academia and environmental stakeholders; and
  • Supporting the work of stakeholders with similar aims including identifying private investment opportunities.

Sector job vacancies:

A list of job opportunities across the Link network can be found here, including roles with the Rivers Trust and Wildlife & Countryside Link. Details of a wildlife management role with the National Trust can be found here.

Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 64 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. You can learn more about Link’s policy work here.

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The Link team also regularly tweets news and comment on Twitter.

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