Meacher to protect wetlands

Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, has announced his intention to give England’s most important wetland sites the highest possible protection.

According to the Government, more than 361,000 hectares of habitat for rare birds and other wildlife, listed under the Ramsar Convention will not only have unparalleled protection against development, but also a guarantee of successful replacement in the rare circumstances that development is permitted. The Government expects that developers will have to bear the cost of the compensation packages, under the polluter pays principle.

“This is a major and timely initiative which will ensure some of the best and most fragile [of] our international sites are given the attention they deserve,” said Meacher. “It complements the provisions for enhancing the management and protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill.”

“This is good news for Ramsar sites,” Wyn Jones, Head of International Casework and Management at English Nature, told edie. Only a few sites are actually affected by the announcement, Jones pointed out, as most sites are already protected by the European Habitats and Species, Habitats, and Birds Directives. The forthcoming Countryside and Rights of Way Bill will add further protection for wildlife, said Jones.

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International arises from the 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, signed in Ramsar, Iran. The treaty provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources by national action and international co-operation.

Matters relating to the management and protection of Ramsar sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will fall to the devolved administration of those countries, says the Government.

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