New wildlife Act passed
20 years of hard campaigning by Friends of the Earth and thousands of committed wildlife supporters have finally paid off with passing of a new act promising radically better protection for wildlife in England and Wales. The new law - the Countryside and Rights of Way Act - was passed on 30th November 2000.
What the new law means
The new legislation puts into place additional safeguards for our most precious wildlife habitats - known as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). These sites are often home to threatened wildflowers and animals such as early gentian and the watervole.
The new safeguards include:
- Protection and proper management of SSSIs
- Extra responsibilities for local and national government departments
- Legal obligation to implement the Rio biodiversity convention (an international commitment to wildlife protection)
- Tightening of existing laws about damage of wildlife
- Legal recognition of an international agreement on wetland sites (Ramsar Convention)
History of the campaign
The Biodiversity campaign team at Friends of the Earth has played a key part in the introduction of this new act. High points of our campaign work include:
1994 - Drafting and launch of Friends of the Earth bill to protect SSSIs
1995/1996 - Highlighting the need for new laws through campaigns showing the threats that SSSIs, such as Cardiff Bay, Red Moss, Thorne Moor, Whernside and Rainham Marsh, are typically exposed to. Thousands write to their MPs to demand more effective safeguards.
1997 - Labour government promises "better protection for wildlife". Friends of the Earth launches Wild Places! - a website detailing all of the SSSIs in the UK and their histories of loss and damage.
1999 - Friends of the Earth delivers 250,000 pledges from the public supporting our campaign for new laws to No. 10. Thousands attend a mass lobby of Parliament.
2000 - The Countryside and Rights of Way Bill is introduced in March and becomes law in November (including additional amendments proposed by Friends of the Earth)
See the British Wildlife article:
From passive to positive
- the Countryside Act 2000 and British wildlife
© Jenny Bates/Friends of the Earth