QQR 7 - LATEST UPDATES
January 2022 - ARG UK are one of 49 signatories to an open letter to the JNCC that was sent on 28.01.22 expressing our continued concerns about the proposed changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the impact of these changes on our native wildlife. The good news is that we have also commented on the latest online QQR 7 Stakeholder Consultation, which for 'our' species recommends that we 'retain' existing levels of protection for all except northern adder where we support the recommendation for a 'regrade to full protection'. This recommendation is based on its vulnerability as a species as evidenced by widespread declines in the past decades (see also Make the Adder Count) and potential for persecution.
Dear JNCC, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot,
Re: 7th Quinquennial Review (QQR) of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)
We are writing this open letter in response to the consultation about proposed changes to the eligibility and decision criteria to determine which species will be included on Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as outlined in the 7th Quinquennial Review (QQR7) consultation document.
Since our previous letter sent in June 2021, we appreciate the extension made to the consultation period, the initiation of stakeholder meetings, the subsequent amendments made to the QQR7 proposals and the broadening of the consultation to include the eligibility and decision criteria. However, we stand by our original objections, notably that the definition of endangerment within the eligibility criteria must not be narrowed to exclude Vulnerable (VU) species.
- Listing only Critically Endangered (CR) and some Endangered (EN) species is counter to the accepted notion that Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable species are all considered at risk of extinction.
- All species in these Red List categories need urgent conservation action and attention
- The proposal is counter to the aims of new Environment Act in England which aims to halt the decline of species by 2030 as well as the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, the Nature Recovery Action Plan for Wales and the Nature Positive 2030 report
- Restricting the number of species listed on Schedules 5 & 8 will be detrimental to Great Britain’s biodiversity and efforts to restore it
- Exclusion of species from the Schedules risks their status worsening before the next QQR, which is arguably more costly in terms of time and money required to restore Critically Endangered species thereafter. The more cost effective option would be to prevent less critical species reaching that point. This is particularly pertinent in the face of the current Biodiversity Crisis exemplified by widespread, once-common but declining species such as hedgehogs and toads.
Limiting the criteria to CR and EN species, and then making a series of ‘special cases’ for retaining selected species categorised as Vulnerable, Near Threatened and Least Concern, presents an inconsistent rationale that undermines the Red Data listing system. For example, the list of species proposed for retention on Schedules 5 and 8 includes 74 (roughly 25%) that would not meet the new eligibility criteria; this inconsistency surely weakens the argument for changing the criteria.
Whilst the eligibility criteria appear to identify species based on their conservation status and need, the proposed changes to the decision criteria will limit applications that have any positive conservation impact. The suggested definition of ‘place of shelter’ for animals appears to narrow the scope for interpretation of a species’ needs to survive:
- The use of the word ‘permanently’ is inappropriately restrictive given that many species depend upon multiple sites to rest or nest, moving frequently (e.g. dormice, harvest mice) or lack clearly defined territories (e.g. hedgehogs)
- The use of the word ‘regularly’ is unhelpful and ambiguous; without frequent and regular monitoring of sites, how will the regularity of the use of a site be established?
We would like formally to state our joint position that the proposed changes to the eligibility and decision criteria as defined for the 7th Quinquennial Review (QQR7) for adding species to Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 are not fit for purpose. If adopted these changes would inevitably weaken efforts to address the current Biodiversity Crisis and undermine the new aims of the Environment Act in England. We urge you to adopt a new approach that is unambiguous and supportive of efforts to reverse declines in biodiversity broaden these rather than making cases for exceptions.
We await your response.
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC)
Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK)
A Rocha UK
Bat Conservation Trust
Biological Recording in Scotland (BRISC)
Born Free Foundation
British Dragonfly Society
British Ecological Society
British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS)
British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)
British Trust for Ornithology
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
CPRE Kent, the countryside charity
Dumfries and Galloway Pine Marten Group
Freshwater Habitats Trust
Friends of Glasgow’s Local Nature Reserves
The Froglife Trust
Glasgow Natural History Society
Hare Preservation Trust
Institute of Fisheries Management
The League Against Cruel Sports
The Mammal Society
Marine Conservation Society
People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)
Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK)
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
Salmon & Trout Conservation
Scottish Wild Land Group (SWLG)
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Trees for Life
Wales Environment Link
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)Wildlife and Countryside Link
Wildlife Gardening Forum
The Wildlife Trusts
Wildlife Trusts Wales
The Woodland Trust
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
July 2021 - CIEEM's response to JNCC over the Wildlife and Countryside Act review
29.07.21 - Response from Professor Colin Galbraith, Chair, JNCC - Please find attached a reply to your letter regarding the 7th Quinquennial Review (QQR) of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
22.07.21 - From the Wildlife and Countryside Link - a note of the recent eNGO meeting with JNCC regarding the seventh quinquennial review. It was a constructive meeting, with JNCC making reassuring and collaborative overtures, but no definite conclusions to share yet. There will be a series of follow up meetings throughout the process with the next in mid-September, where we hope to get down to some of the technical nitty gritty.
03.07.21 - We have jointly published an open letter dated 28.06 21 from 35 UK-based wildlife NGOs setting out concerns about the change to the eligibility criteria for which species will be included on Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in 2021. This is also described in the attached press release.
23.06.21 - A template for a letter that could be sent to MPs or other representatives to raise awareness of the impact of the the 7th Quinquennial Review (QQR) of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)
What is the 7th Quinquennial Review?
Every five years, the statutory nature conservation bodies for the United Kingdom (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot) review Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981. This is coordinated by the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). This review provides recommendations to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and to Ministers for the Environment in the Scottish Government and Welsh Government for changes to these schedules.
What is changing - the new Eligibility Criteria
Under the new criteria, the country-based nature conservation bodies will only pursue scheduling of a species when an animal or plant is in danger of extinction in Great Britain.
Why this is important!
Schedules 5 and 8 of the WCA focus on species endangerment, and selection will preferentially consider GB Red Listed species, i.e. those facing imminent threat of extinction (IUCN 2012) in GB.
This means that species where there is no evidence of decline, or have not been assessed against the IUCN national or regional Red List Criteria are not considered.
At the current time all of our widespread species are covered by Schedules 5 and 8 (c) Sale activities S.9 (5)’. This includes: common frog (Rana temporaria), common toad (Bufo bufo), Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus), smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris); widespread reptiles are additionally covered by ‘Killing & injuring S.9 (1)’ slow-worm (Anguis fragilis), grass snake (Natrix Helvetica), adder (Vipera berus), and viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara).
You can download information on protection levels of all Schedule 5 and 8 species here: spreadsheet Current schedule 5 and 8 species and protection status 2021 (34 KB)
Under the new criteria they will be removed unless there is clear objective evidence of declines!!
In our opinion this could have the following impacts:
- There would no longer be a requirement to consider any of the widespread species (excepting Great Crested Newt) under planning protocols
- It would become legal to trade wild-caught British widespread amphibians and reptiles - which poses a huge biosecurity risk, since this could result in wild animals being moved around. We have already identified a significant threat to our native newts should Bsal enter wild populations in the UK (it is already present in captive collections), a disease that has led to >99% mortality in fire salamanders in The Netherlands and Belgium - for more on this please go to our Bsal web page. Other diseases include Ranavirus, Severe Perkinsea Infection (SPI), and snake fungal disease.
- It would remove protection from killing or injury from our only native venomous snake - the adder - so it would no longer be a wildlife crime to persecute or kill them, which could be the final blow for an animal already on the brink
- Removal from the following lists of priority species and habitats in England, Scotland, and Wales, from Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 (England), Section 7 of the Environment Act (Wales), Section 2(4) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 - for more see: https://jncc.gov.uk/our-work/uk-bap/#uk-bap-priority-species-and-habitats
We believe this could lead to local extinctions of some of our widespread species!!
All of our ‘Critically Endangered’ species will be automatically recommended for scheduling without needing to meet the Decision Criteria. European Protected Species (EPS) are automatically proposed for listing on the schedules in England and Wales, and will continue to be protected under the Habitats Regulations in Scotland.
This includes: smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) , sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) , natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) , Northern Clade pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae), and great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) – (Note this species is already subject to the new District Level Licensing programme that can issue a license for ‘killing’ and ‘removal’ of habitat subject to compensatory habitat creation).
What can we do?
As a part of the review stakeholders are given an opportunity to comment or suggest changes. These can be made via an ‘Information Pack’ – where you can access specific surveys for ‘addition’, ‘removal’, or ‘change in status’ of specific species. This must be evidence based – so if for example you wanted to add ‘adder’ you would need to cite published evidence of significant adder declines. Or you can email your country representative directly.
Evidence that a species meets the Decision Criteria should be submitted through the online survey which runs from 8 April to 7 July 2021
The target date for delivery of the QQR 7 is December 2021.
Important dates and the phases of the review are:
- Stakeholders & the country conservation agencies submit proposals using the online survey: 8 Apr – 7 Jul 2021
- Review of new proposals by the QQR Inter-agency Group: Jul - Oct 2021
- Consultation on draft recommendations: Oct – Nov 2021
- Approval sought from the Joint Committee and submission of final recommendations to Governments: Nov - Dec 2021 4
Collaboration with the country nature conservation bodies and other stakeholders during the data gathering phase is strongly encouraged. Please contact the country nature conservation bodies if you would like to invite their specialists into discussions or need more information.
Contact details are:
Reference: IUCN (2012). Guidelines for application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. IUCN SSC. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.