Yesterday the UK narrowly voted to leave the European Union. Many naturalists, including Sir David Attenborough, were saddened by this outcome. It doesn’t look good for wildlife in the UK, especially farmland wildlife.
The Wildlife Trusts manage lots of farmland for wildlife and 6% of their income comes from the EU. This is due to funding that The Wildlife Trusts get when they create wildlife habitat on the farmland they own. When the UK is not part of the EU, The Wildlife Trusts will not receive that vital 6%. This could mean that less management can be carried out for farmland wildlife.
The Common Agricultural Policy is a policy which, among other things, provides financial support from the EU on environmental management. This is similar to the funding The Wildlife Trusts receive: environmental management that takes place on farms can be funded by the CAP. The CAP also influences farm management decisions within the EU which we would not benefit from after we officially leave the EU.
The Birds and Habitats Directives hope to contribute to saving nature within the European Union by conserving particular species which fit a number of criteria. It is proven that species listed under Annex 1 of the Birds Directive have had population increases not experienced by species not under Annex 1. Outside of the European Union, this effect has not been observed. Therefore, now that we are leaving the EU, the UK population of species listed under Annex 1 might not display the same increases as the populations within the EU due to the Birds and Habitats Directives no longer applying.
The EU is the most important legal driving force for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which is a critical measure for marine wildlife conservation. Without the influence of the EU directives the development of the marine protected areas would be at risk. Marine protected areas are very important in the UK due to the amazing biodiversity of species in UK seas. Without protection the biodiversity will be devalued.
International impacts might also be felt. Now that we will be without the support of the European Union, the United Kingdom might try to create agreements internationally which benefit nature conservation. However, due to the UK’s neighbours being members of the EU, they might be less willing to agree to join an additional agreement outside of EU laws.
However, just maybe, the future UK government will be highly committed to conserving nature. Like me, Boris Johnson severely dislikes Grey Squirrels and would greatly prefer Red Squirrels to replace them. Therefore if Boris Johnson does become the new Prime Minister, more work could be done to save the Red Squirrel. Hopefully the environment will be higher up on the agenda than it is at the moment. Just maybe all these European directives and the funding will be replaced. It should be a priority.