MP calls for action to protect international wildlife

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has called for new measures to protect endangered species and habitats around the world, including an end to the “one-off” sale of elephant ivory.

The Shadow Environment Secretary was speaking in Delhi on Monday (12 October) at an event hosted by the Wildlife Trust for India and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Mr Herbert said the international community needed to face up to the impact on wildlife from the destruction of natural habitats, the world's unsustainable demand for resources, the dangers of climate change, and a damaging illegal wildlife trade.

The MP warned of a significant threat to the survival of many species, including tigers, snow leopards and orangutans, and highlighted a report last year which showed that a quarter of the world's mammal species are at risk of extinction.

Mr Herbert said that, despite the global ban, armed groups in Africa were still profiting from the illegal ivory trade and reports suggest that some of the proceeds are being used to support terrorist activities.  The MP also criticised last year's "one-off" sale of ivory stockpiles which "sent completely the wrong signal to those profiting from the illicit ivory trade".

Mr Herbert called for strong leadership from countries like the UK and India to raise the profile of these issues and lead the call for change, and said that international cooperation was often "the key to success".  The MP said effective regulation and tough enforcement had an important part to play as well as social responsibility on the part of individuals and businesses.

Mr Herbert continued: "But we cannot rely completely on such actions to protect endangered species and habitats, even if they could all be realised internationally.  Our ecosystems are worth trillions of pounds.  We must find ways of valuing them or they will become further degraded.

"With a market approach to eco-system services, conservationists can look forward to new ways of supporting wildlife that are based on ascribing a true value to biodiversity."

Mr Herbert said we should provide new financial incentives to encourage conservation, as in Madagascar where villagers are paid to plant trees on eroded land and in the Manas National Park in India where an eco-tourism society is paying poachers to become gamekeepers instead.

During his visit to India, Mr Herbert met the Minister of State for the Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh to discuss environmental issues. 

Mr Herbert also gave a speech in Kerala in which he said that the international negotiations at Copenhagen in December would be "crucial" and that we will need to act swiftly to avert the most damaging effects of climate change.

Mr Herbert's visit to India was funded privately, not at the taxpayers' expense.

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. For the full text of Mr Herbert's speech on international wildlife conservation, visit [link to follow].

2. For the BBC news report on the threat to the world's mammal species, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7651981.stm.

3. For the full text of Mr Herbert's speech on climate change, visit [link to follow].

4. In the photograph Nick Herbert is feeding a rescued baby elephant at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, Kaziranga National Park, Northern India.

Ed Barker