4 October 2019, immediate use

Population Matters statement on State of Nature 2019

Population Matters director Robin Maynard says:

"The State of Nature report leaves us in no doubt that nature and the conservation community are fighting a losing battle against the UK’s ongoing assault on our wildlife. Good things are being done, but not enough. One reason this battle is being lost is only fleetingly referenced in the report – the most rapidly expanding population of any large nation in Europe (1). Those references are telling: water abstraction, urbanisation and infrastructure development. These developments are the inevitable consequences of population growth. We all need land, we all need water, we all need infrastructure.

The report states that urbanisation accounted for a greater impact on species than any other habitat conversion and made clear one of the critical trade-offs: we can use less land if we choose to live in a Hong Kong style concrete forest of high rises and then see urban green spaces which offer vital refuges of biodiversity eradicated – or we can sprawl outwards, grubbing up land and habitat from our countryside. Either way, nature suffers. While population growth is not the only factor driving increased housing demand, ending our population growth is essential if we are to ease that pressure. Meanwhile, our expanding population is clearly one driver of the agricultural intensification that the report identifies as another critical factor.

The 2016 State of Nature report described the UK as one of the most “nature depleted countries in the world”. Overall, things are now worse. The causes are multiple and complex and they demand solutions which are far-reaching and substantial across a multitude of areas. If, however, we ignore the fact that the ONS projects our population will grow by more than 6 million people over the next 25 years, it’s hard to see how we can possibly expect the battle to protect our biodiversity to be won. If we're to do so, the UK needs a progressive, evidence-based and strategic Sustainable Population Policy as a matter of urgency."

 ends -

Contact
Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications
T: 0208 123 9170
E: alistair.currie@populationmatters.org

Notes for editors

State of Nature 2019 report https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

UK population growth. The UK population grew from to 52.1m to 66.6m between 1950 and 2018, and is It is projected to grow to 72.9 million by 2041. Source: Office for National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/overviewoftheukpopulation/august2019.

The UK is currently expected to become the most populous nation in Europe in the second half of the century.