Government plans to remove legal protection for large number of UK species

30th June 2021

The Freshwater Habitats Trust, along with 29 other high-profile NGOs, have written an open letter to oppose a review of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which could undermine decades of work to restore and protect threatened species.

Every 5 years the government reviews species listed in Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) through a process called the Quinquennial Review (QQR). The QQR is co-ordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) along with the country agencies – NatureScot, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

In this most recent QQR the JNCC and country agencies have changed the eligibility criteria of species listed and therefore afforded protection by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA). In order to retain protection under the new criteria, species must be classed as “Critically Endangered” or “Endangered” in Great Britain using the IUCN Red List process. This means that an animal or plant species will only be protected when it is in imminent danger of extinction.

These changes will see a large number of species automatically lose all protection under Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This includes several amphibian species: common frog, common toad, smooth newt, palmate newt.

Read the open letter to the QQR Review Group to  to find out more.