Badger Trust raises concerns on proposed changes to protected species legislation

Proposals risk a reduction in eligibility for protection status and go against wider moves to protect and restore biodiversity

Badger Trust has joined forces with a coalition of animal welfare and conservation-related NGOs, including the Wildlife Trusts, RSPCA and RSPB, to highlight concerns about proposed changes to the eligibility criteria for the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). The changes give concern as they would reduce eligibility for species protection rather than broaden it, and are not supportive of wider efforts to protect and restore biodiversity.

The changes are prompted by a review, conducted every 5 years and led by the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, which proposes changes to which species would be eligible for protection under Section 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

Peter Hambly, Executive Director of Badger Trust, said: ‘We have responded directly to the consultation, and we are also one of 48 signatories to a joint letter led by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. We object to some of the proposed changes to the Act as they could weaken protection for many species in Great Britain. Although badgers are not directly impacted, as they are protected by law under Section 6 of the Act and specifically the Protection of Badgers Act (1992), we support measures that are inclusive of wider ecological protection and all species within it.’

‘We are concerned that any weakening of protection status could lead to further species and habitat decline at a time when Great Britain is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.’

He continued: ‘Specifically, the proposed changes look to remove the eligibility of species classed as Vulnerable, listing instead only Critically Endangered and Endangered species, with special cases having to be proven for other species.’

‘It would be a far better use of all resources involved to protect species from reaching that critical stage in the first place.’

Badger Trust believes that the proposals ignore the lack of data and transparency for accurate population estimates for some species, and is contrary to many existing legislations such as the Environment Act in England which aims to halt the decline of species by 2030.

Additionally, the narrow scope of definition of the term ‘place of shelter’ risks restricting habitat protection, as has been afforded in previous iterations of this Act, by limiting species declines to ‘direct human pressure’. Disregarding all causes of habitat loss in this way could be in direct contradiction to the Bern Convention.

Badger Trust asks that the JNCC take note of the serious concerns raised by the organisations in order to develop broader and more robust legislation that is fit for the purpose of protecting species.

Further information:

Every five years, the Country Nature Conservation Bodies in Great Britain (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot), working jointly through the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, review lists of protected species on Schedules 5 (animals) and 8 (plants) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This process is known as the Quinquennial Review. Full details of the Quinquennial Review.

The full response from Badger Trust can be read via the download below