Warm welcome for retention of natural environment quangos

Thursday 14th October 2010

In response to today’s publication of the Government’s review of quangos, The Wildlife Trusts warmly welcome the commitment to retain natural environment bodies. The conservation organisation depends on them to help achieve its vision for A Living Landscape and Living Seas.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“We welcome Rt Hon Caroline Spelman’s recognition of the importance of Natural England, Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Substantial reform is already underway including moves to ask the voluntary sector to take on various functions. We will continue to work in partnership with these vital bodies to make the most of our strong local presence.

Part of the reform will include looking at the future of land. Currently The Wildlife Trusts manage 44 of the 84 National Nature Reserves (NNR) not directly managed by Natural England (NE). The messages are that the rest of the series will now be moved away from the state. Each NNR will be a key element of a local ecological network and The Wildlife Trusts are keen to buy time to ensure the best outcome for each of these national treasures. Also key will be how the Forestry Commission (FC) and Environment Agency (EA) go about any land disposals and the priority they afford to securing the right ownership for their land which is of current or future wildlife value. The recent Review Group made direct reference to this1.

Stephanie Hilborne continued: “The elements of reform that relate to out-sourcing of work to the voluntary sector must be carefully managed. We are looking for open processes which can allow us to play to our strengths. The changes in Wales will also be key2.

Also welcomed by The Wildlife Trusts is the decision to retain the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as a separate body. The HLF has helped transform the fortune of local wildlife around the UK since its formation. The continued Big Lottery Fund is also a key force for good both for nature and people. The Wildlife Trusts manage a £50m Local Food programme for Big Lottery and it has funded vital programmes which demonstrate the value the natural environment holds for people around the UK.

Stephanie added: “And finally, it is with a big sigh of relief that there is continuity for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). The MMO will be key to securing delivery of the 2009 Marine & Coastal Access Act, for which The Wildlife Trusts played a pivotal campaigning role.”

Story by RSWT