The 30% by 2030 Campaign – Briefing Note
In September 2020 the UK Prime Minister announced a commitment “to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030”. This briefing note explains the background to this pledge and examines its potential implications for Scotland.
The campaign to protect 30% of land and sea globally by 2030 is run by Campaign for Nature, a global, largely non-governmental, campaign funded by National Geographic and the Wyss Foundation – which in turn is funded by wealthy philanthropist and Swiss/US businessman Hansjörg Wyss. They have published a detailed economic report to support their case. The campaign is aimed at influencing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to adopt this target, which is not yet certain. The CBD was supposed to meet in 2020 in Kunming, China but this has been delayed until 2021 due to Covid-19.
The governmental equivalent of Campaign for Nature is the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, led by Costa Rica and France. They have published many detailed scientific and economic reports to support their case. Supportive Governments are invited to sign the Leaders Pledge for Nature; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the Pledge in September 2020, when the UK Government committed to protect an additional 4% of England and said it will work with the Devolved Administrations to agree an approach across the UK.
The Campaign is unclear about how it defines ‘protected’, what values the land is supposed to be protected for, and which designations qualify. However, it seems to relate primarily to protection for biodiversity, ie the conservation of wildlife habitats and species, rather than landscape, which includes scenery and tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
Data provided by NatureScot indicates that the current coverage of protected areas is as follows:
This coverage includes the following designations:
- National Parks
- Ramsar sites (Convention on Wetlands of international importance)
- Special Areas of Conservation (EU Habitats Directive)
- Special Protection Areas (EU Birds Directive)
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) (England/Wales/NI only)
Scotland’s 40 National Scenic Areas (NSA) are not included in the above figures, because the IUCN (World Conservation Union) recently decided that they no longer meet its protected area criteria.
The UK as a whole needs to protect 4.4% more of its land to fulfil the ambitions of the 30% by 2030 campaign. In November 2020 the UK Government announced greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes and the creation of new National Parks and AONBs.
In December 2020 the Scottish Government announced its commitment to increase protected areas for nature to at least 30% of Scotland’s terrestrial area by 2030, and that it would commission advice from NatureScot on how best to achieve this. Scotland needs to protect 7.3% more of its land to fulfil the ambitions of the 30% by 2030 campaign. As Ramsar, SAC and SPA are all international designations, and SSSIs are designated on strict scientific criteria, the only realistic way to achieve this by 2030 would be to designate more National Parks or to regain IUCN status for NSAs.