Biodiversity and meadows

Historically, we have lost large areas of wildlife-rich habitat and seen subsequent declines of many species. The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has highlighted that we have lost more than 90 per cent of our wildflower meadows over the last 100 years, but the Government is ambitious to reverse those losses. 
 
Strong protections are already in place for our remaining wildlife habitats. The designated sites network protects over 1 million hectares of our best meadows, bogs, woodland, heathland and other wildlife-rich habitat, these must form the backbone of any recovery.
 
The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out Government's plans for nature recovery. Having left the Common Agricultural Policy we can move away from direct payments based on land holdings to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods: principally environmental enhancement.
 
The Agriculture Bill sets out an ambitious new agricultural system which will at last reward farmers and land managers for their vital work looking after and enhancing our environment. The new system will enrich wildlife habitats, improve the quality of air, water and soil, contribute to reducing flood risk, and reduce and mitigate climate change. We will be able to protect the health of our plants and trees better, and enable farmers to build on our world-renowned reputation for high standards of animal health and welfare. 
 
Our wildlife habitat mapping is improving. Natural England already publishes national inventories of priority habitats, including meadows on the Government's open data portal at https://data.gov.uk/. Defra is also investing £200,000 to develop a 'living' habitat map for England using satellite data, showing meadows and other wildflower-rich habitats. A draft national map will be available at the end of March 2019.