Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) lay out protections for our vulnerable wildlife, at risk due to persecution, population decline and other threats.
Recently, a review led by the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has laid out proposed changes to the eligibility criteria of species listed and therefore afforded protection. These changes could have a devastating impact on our wildlife.
Only those animals or plants that are in imminent danger of extinction will be included, unless a strong case can be made for inclusion. Some of our most iconic and loved wildlife, like water voles, adders, hedgehogs, red squirrels and mountain hares, would have their existing or potential protections removed, and could be at serious risk if these changes come into force.
Removal of protection means:
- It will no longer be illegal to kill them – paving the way for persecution
- It would become legal to trade wild-caught British species
- We remove the opportunity to prevent species decline in the first place, and only act in response to a catastrophic species decline
In the year that the UK are hosting COP26, it is unthinkable that we are stripping away protections from wildlife. And yet here we are. This is a step backwards that we just cannot afford to take.
Along with other conservation NGOs, we have written an open letter, which you can read below, calling for a public consultation on the decision to change the eligibility criteria.
We must stand up for nature.