Species reintroduction 'not a priority' for government

CLA argues there are safer and more cost-effective ways to improve biodiversity
White-tailed eagle
Beavers and white-tailed eagles are among the species being re-introduced across the country, but the government says its priorities lie elsewhere.

Reintroducing wildlife species is 'not a priority' for the government in its ongoing nature recovery efforts, with the focus to be placed elsewhere to improve biodiversity and habitats.

An EFRA Committee report, published in July, included a number of recommendations on how to manage species reintroduction with land managers, as well as suggestions for species reintroduction priority lists and targets.

The government has now declined to adopt these measures, saying it is "focused on habitat restoration, creation and improved connectivity; tackling pressures on species including pollution, unsustainable use of resources and climate change; and targeted action to recover specific species".

Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:

“Species reintroductions should only take place with the explicit backing of those in the local area and the consent of those who will be affected.

“Without proper case-by-case evaluation, transparent management and monitoring, the policy of reintroduction could risk rural livelihoods and communities. Agricultural disruption, damage and disease transmission could be among the unintended, but likely, consequences.

“Biodiversity is crucial for our sector’s sustainable future, but there are safer and more cost-effective ways to improve it which should be considered first.”

High-profile projects

Species such as the large blue butterfly, red kite and pool frog have already been reintroduced, Defra has said.

One of the most high-profile projects has been releasing white-tailed eagles on the Isle of Wight.

A Natural England licence permits the release of up to 60 juvenile eagles on the island over a five-year period from 2019, as part of a Forestry England and Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation project. The first successful breeding attempt was announced this summer.

They are Britain's largest birds of prey with a wingspan of up to 2.5m (8.2ft) and were once widespread across England.

What do you think?

The CLA is keen to hear your views on species reintroductions.

Please email mike.sims@cla.org.uk