UK Environment Minister looks forward to endangered species meeting

The UK's Environment Minister is looking forward to a meeting in Nairobi on trade in endangered species. Michael Meacher points to the success of the UK-based World Conservation Monitoring Centre in obtaining UN status as proof that the country is fully engaged in biodiversity protection.

Speaking at a conference on the role business should play in biodiversity protection, Meacher highlighted the UK Government’s work on a national biodiversity action plan which has led to the creation of 391 species action plans and 45 habitat action plans. These species and habitat plans require sponsorship by specific companies – a system Meacher described as demonstrating how business can work to protect biodiversity.

Asked by edie whether the UK Government has learnt something from the Greenpeace-led court case that proved that the country had not properly implemented the EU Habitats Directive in the North Atlantic (see related story), Meacher said: “Habitat protection has been extended from 12 miles to 200 miles [beyond the UK coast] and we’re not seeking to infringe on the Directive. All new oil licensing has to be fully in compliance with EU legislation and we aim to see that this is the case.”

Beyond the UK, Meacher says he fully supports the work of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which will meet next week in Nairobi. Three of the 100 proposals that will be discussed at CITES will be forwarded by the UK, including a proposal to use DNA tracking to pursue criminals who trade in endangered species.

WCMC has maintained the CITES database on trade in endangered species since 1980. A spokesperson at WCMC told edie that UN status will not compromise the charity’s independence. “We are independent and that’s what UNEP likes about us – we work with businesses, governments, schoolchildren.”

UN status will allow WCMC to access more funding and to recruit more international staff.

At the CITES meeting next week, WCMC staff will provide its usual service, which is to offer factual information to the Convention’s secretariat and member countries on current figures and trends in trade in endangered species.

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