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Biodiversity

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 10 March 2022

2. What steps his Department is taking to support biodiversity and rewilding in local urban communities. (905983)

The Government have a world-leading target to halt nature’s decline by 2030, and recovering urban biodiversity is an important part of that work. Through our local nature recovery strategies, we will identify local priorities for nature recovery, including of course in urban areas, such as creating, connecting and restoring habitat to form part of our nature recovery network. We are investing £750 million through the nature for climate fund, and I urge my hon. Friend to look at the range of funding we have available, including the local authority treescapes fund and the urban tree challenge fund.

Local urban communities such as Southport benefit enormously from trees, shrubbery and other green spaces that promote biodiversity and rewilding, but there are strong concerns among my constituents that Sefton Council is planning to cut back the greenery along Southport’s pavements and replace it with concrete blocks for cycle lanes. So will my hon. Friend support my attempts to fight this nature crime—a potential tree massacre—by Labour-controlled Sefton Council?

My hon. Friend is a great advocate for this, as Members can tell, and he has regularly bent my ear about the green spaces in his constituency. Through our Environment Act 2021, we have a strengthened duty on local authorities to assess what they can do to further conservation and biodiversity, and we have placed a duty on designated authorities to produce these local nature recovery strategies. We also have that world-leading target to halt the decline in nature. So I urge him to work with the council and get it to do more, but it could replace those concrete blocks with hedges. The air pollution Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), would be grateful for that, as there are some views that that would help to tackle air pollution as well.

How bio- diversity and renaturing is undertaken in the UK will be guided by the convention on biological diversity. Biodiversity has experienced a catastrophic collapse globally. The United Nations biodiversity COP15 is shortly to resume. What are the Government’s strategic goals at COP15? What equivalent headline target is there to the net zero target at COP26, which is well understood in local urban communities and across the UK?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that and for his shared interest in biodiversity. He is right: we must not just do this at home—we have to deal with it abroad as well. Biodiversity loss is a global problem and the forthcoming COP15 on the convention on biological diversity will be really important in furthering our work to bend the curve on the loss of biodiversity. That was agreed at the G7, and the aim of the CBD is to get as many as countries as possible to sign up to that.