Last year, in a response to the climate and ecological emergency, the UK government committed to the international ’30 by 30’ target, aiming to protect 30% of our sea and land by the year 2030, but a new government report reveals that with just 7 years to go, we are a long way from that target, at just 6.5%.
As reported by Real Media previously, the ‘30 by 30’ campaign has elicited concerns internationally from groups exposing how it is being used to grab lands from Indigenous people, potentially evicting millions in the name of conservation. However, land ownership in England is already concentrated in the hands of a very few. According to author Guy Shrubsole around a third of the country lies in the hands of aristocracy, gentry and the Royal Family. So the Wildcard campaign are focussing on three groups – The Royal Family, The Church, and the Oxbridge Universities, demanding they play their part in rewilding and protecting the huge areas of land they respectively own.
Prince William claims to be passionate about the environment, and is the founder of the environmental Earthshot Prize. He recently inherited around a third of Dartmoor, and while opening a new restaurant at the Duchy’s nursery, he also announced a plan to expand and protect ancient oak woodland there, Wistman’s Wood – a nine acre site in the West Dart Valley.
The Duchy of Cornwall promoted the aim of doubling the size of Wistman’s by 2040, as part of a sustainability goal of net zero and a nature rich estate, but Wildcard campaigners point out that the expansion represents just 0.01% of the land the Royals and Crown Estate own, and described the announcement as greenwashing and ‘small potatoes’.
A earlier Wildcard petition was delivered to the Queen by Chris Packham in 2021, but after an initial positive meeting, progress has stalled. Now, to help meet the Government’s 30% target, they want large landowners like the Crown Estate to urgently commit at least 30% and preferably more like 50% of their land and seabed to rewilding.