Biodiversity brings benefits worth at least 40 million a year to the Isle of Man according to a recent study, but this is the tip of the iceberg as this only includes habitats on land, based on limited statistics. Scotland recently identified that biodiversity is worth £21.5 billion a year to their economy. According to the Scottish Government, Scotland's insects generate as much as £43 million a year for the economy (including pollination and pest control) and its peatlands are believed to store 10 times more carbon than all of the UK's trees. The carbon stored as peat in Manx soils has been valued at £95m (2010 values).
An ambitious plan to conserve the Island’s biodiversity has been launched today by Environment Minister, Phil Gawne. “Managing our natural wealth to 2020” is the Isle of Man’s first published biodiversity strategy. This is a draft for consultation at this stage.
The Strategy aims, by 2020, to
• manage biodiversity change to minimise loss,
• maintain and where necessary restore or enhance native biodiversity and
• actively involve society in understanding, appreciating and safeguarding our biodiversity.
The Strategy has been drawn up in consultation with land and sea users, government officers and people in conservation organisations. A key theme of the Strategy is to raise public awareness and strengthen the relationship between people and nature so people appreciate, understand, protect, conserve and above all enjoy Manx biodiversity. The document lists seven strategic objectives which include raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity and how it can be used sustainably, reducing biodiversity loss and better integrating government policies.
“It is crucial that we act now before more species are lost” explained Phil Gawne, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture. “I meet many individuals who manage the land and harvest the sea. I am confident that there is a growing appreciation of the important part these people can play in the conservation of our biodiversity. We need to influence key stakeholders, be it fishermen, farmers or land owners, the business sector or the wider public, if we are to make a significant progress in halting the decline in biodiversity, before 2020.”
The Strategy is to be reviewed in the light of the consultation responses and then laid before Tynwald. It will be followed by a Delivery Plan which will involve partners and the public as well as government.
“Having and implementing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is a valuable step for us as well as a key requirement of the Convention on Biological Diversity” said Liz Charter DEFA’s Principal Biodiversity Officer. “This will provide us with the route map to deliver and prioritise conservation of our most important habitats and species”.
It is a draft for consultation and everyone is invited to respond to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA). The consultation runs until September 30th 2013. Copies are available to read on line on the government website (www.gov.im/consultations/) and in Commissioners offices, public libraries, DEFA, Manx Wildlife Trust and the Manx Museum.