Biodiversity brings benefits worth at least £40 million a year to the Manx economy, according to a recent study.
And this could be just the tip of the iceberg, believes Environment Minister Phil Gawne who has launched an ambitious plan to conserve the island’s biodiversity.
‘Managing our natural wealth to 2020’ is the Isle of Man’s first published biodiversity strategy.
Only a draft for consultation at this stage, the strategy aims, by 2020, to manage biodiversity change to minimise loss, maintain and where necessary restore or enhance native biodiversity and actively involve society in understanding, appreciating and safeguarding our biodiversity.
It has been drawn up in consultation with land and sea users, government officers and people in conservation organisations.
Mr Gawne said: ‘It is crucial that we act now before more species are lost.
‘I meet many individuals who manage the land and harvest the sea. I am confident that there is a growing appreciation of the important part these people can play in the conservation of our biodiversity. We need to influence key stakeholders, be it fishermen, farmers or land owners, the business sector or the wider public, if we are to make a significant progress in halting the decline in biodiversity, before 2020.’
Scotland recently identified that biodiversity is worth £21.5 billion a year to its economy. According to the Scottish Government, Scotland’s insects generate as much as £43 million a year for the economy (including pollination and pest control) and its peatlands are believed to store 10 times more carbon than all of the UK’s trees. The carbon stored as peat in Manx soils has been valued at £95 million.
The Manx strategy is to be reviewed in the light of the consultation responses and then laid before Tynwald. It will be followed by a delivery plan which will involve partners and the public as well as government.
Liz Charter, DEFA’s principal biodiversity officer, said: ‘Having and implementing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is a valuable step for us as well as a key requirement of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This will provide us with the route map to deliver and prioritise conservation of our most important habitats and species.’
The consultation runs until September 30. Copies are available to read on line on the government website www.gov.im/consultations/