Boris Johnson earmarks area the size of the Lake District and south Downs for protected status in bid to boost Britain’s natural beauty

  • Boris Johnson will warn immediate action is needed to save wildlife and habitats
  • He said that ‘we cannot afford to dither’ because biodiversity loss is happening
  • He is promising to safeguard an extra 400,000 hectares of land in next decade 

An area the size of the Lake District and South Downs will be protected under an ambitious pledge to boost Britain’s nature.

Boris Johnson will today warn that immediate action is needed to save wildlife and habitats which are disappearing at a ‘frightening rate’.

He will add: ‘We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever so our action must be immediate.’

Boris Johnson will today warn that immediate action is needed to save wildlife and habitats which are disappearing at a ‘frightening rate’

Mr Johnson is making his promise to safeguard an extra 400,000 hectares of land in the next decade during a virtual event held by the United Nations. The commitment will boost the amount of protected land, which includes national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, from 26 per cent of England to 30 per cent by 2030.

That is equivalent to the size of the Lake District and South Downs National Parks combined. The Prime Minister will also say: ‘We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets. We must act now, right now.’

Mr Johnson will commit to his promise by signing the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature at the UN event. This states that more money will be spent on the environment and ensuring nature is a priority as the world recovers from the pandemic. As the environment is a devolved matter, Westminster will work with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland plus landowners to protect more land across the UK.

Martin Harper, RSPB director of global conservation, said the 30 per cent commitment could be a ‘huge step towards addressing the crisis our wildlife is facing’. But he added: ‘Targets on paper won’t be enough. Those set a decade ago failed because they weren’t backed up by action.

‘This is why the 30 by 30 promise must now be put into domestic law, as part of a suite of goals to restore the abundance and diversity of our wildlife, in every country in the UK.’

Craig Bennett, of The Wildlife Trusts, welcomed Mr Johnson’s pledge as a ‘good start’.  

The commitment will boost the amount of protected land, which includes national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, from 26 per cent of England to 30 per cent by 2030. Pictured: North York Moors National Park (file photo)

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