A Bournemouth University Professor has given evidence as part of a House of Lords inquiry around protected areas.
Professor of Marine Biology and Conversation Rick Stafford was invited to provide oral evidence as part of Protected Areas inquiry held by the Environment and Climate Change Committee of the House of Lords on Wednesday 8 March.
Protected areas are areas which need or receive protection because of their environmental value. This includes Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Specific Scientific Interest, as well as marine areas such as Marine Conservation Zones.
The inquiry explored the current status of protected areas across the UK, in the context of the government’s target to protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030.
Professor Stafford, who is also chair of the British Ecology Society’s policy committee, said that currently around 5 per cent of the UK is an effective protected area but that sites are not monitored regularly, so it is difficult to know what condition they are in.
He added that issues like climate change, invasive species and pollution from outside of these protected areas could impact on the habitats and species that live within them.
Speaking as part of his evidence, Professor Stafford said: “There is a whole suite of scientific evidence which shows that protected areas are very good for biodiversity, and that applies in the marine and terrestrial environments. That does not mean that we can ignore the rest of the sea or the rest of the land; we need to manage that in a better way for biodiversity. Essentially, if we have natural areas and then complete urbanisation everywhere, those natural areas will not work.
He added: “For the management measures that need to be put in place, there is not a one size fits all, either in the sea or on the land. It is very much about removing the stressors and knowing what they are in order to be able to put the right management measures in place for those sites.”