We have a duty to secure conservation and scientific discovery for the younger generation
Looking after our precious ecosystems requires constant energy and willingness to listen to environmental organisations, scientists and animal welfare groups who are pushing for progress on this issue, says Andrew Rosindell MP.
As the former Shadow Minister for Animal Welfare, I am always horrified to hear of the unlawful and sickening trades that affect wildlife around the globe. This is why I was reassured at the Government’s plan to ban the sale of ivory in the United Kingdom. The demand for ivory is due to the misguided desire for trinkets and ornaments, and as a result the population of elephants is collapsing. Clearly, Britain has been a route for some of this trade for too long. The ban is always something I have believed in and I will continue to push for a more proactive approach against poaching.
Britain is a nation of animal lovers. We are actually home to the world’s first animal welfare charity and the earliest cases of animal welfare legislation. Yet while we do so much to protect animals at home and seek to become a global leader on environmental issues, Britain is currently the largest exporter of legal ivory. This is very embarrassing as it fuels the demand and opportunities for the laundering of illegal ivory in the Far East, and has contributed to the significant damaging of wildlife.
We do not want to wake up in a world where we suddenly have to contemplate the loss of these iconic creatures. Our grandchildren could scarcely contemplate why it was our generation that didn’t do enough to save them and this is why some of the toughest restrictions in the world must be enacted forcefully to stamp out this brutal trade.
The work does not stop there. Looking after our precious ecosystems requires constant energy and willingness to listen to environmental organisations, scientists and animal welfare groups who are pushing for progress on this issue.
This is why last Wednesday I secured an Adjournment Debate in the early evening in the House of Commons to discuss ‘Animals in Peril’. We cannot simply gamble away the future of the natural world through our own waste and exploitation. It is especially important as we leave the European Union and have full control of our environmental policy. This is our chance to revisit policies on climate change, animal welfare, agriculture, fisheries and habitat management. I am glad that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have insisted that Brexit will not cause a race to the bottom on standards, but allow us to create a beacon of hope that sets an example to the world. As such, DEFRA should be given a bigger budget to make a real tangible difference on the ground all over the world.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Zoos and Aquariums Group, I have been privileged to have worked with many esteemed environmental organisations devoted to conservation. Sadly, they all tell me the future does not bode well with animal populations decreasing at an astonishing rate.
The biggest threat to endangered species is pushing away the problem in the naïve hope that someone else will solve it. Some may say our national focus has been rightly held down by geopolitical problems, but time is not on our side. There is no going back when today’s iconic animals only exist in zoos and ecosystems across the world have collapsed, and no reason why both the House of Commons and House of Lords cannot allocate more time to debate environmental issues.
We must fulfil our duty to secure conservation and scientific discovery for the younger generation, and guarantee our devotion and resources to solve these challenges. We must never let nature become a lower priority and I implore the Department for International Aid to re-evaluate how it spends money and consider how it can provide more help for anti-poaching efforts and environmental conservation.
I know many MPs from all parties are fully committed to protecting wildlife across the globe, and I look forward to the Government taking this issue seriously.
Andrew Rosindell is a Conservative MP for Romford
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