We’re celebrating the arrival of two baby Komodo dragons – the largest living lizard on the planet!
Please be aware that a page on Facebook is impersonating us and using the name ‘The Chester Wildlife Park’ to promote a fake competition which goes on to ask for your personal details and financial information.
Ahead of what conservation experts have labelled a “crucial summit” on biodiversity this spring, we’ve released a new paper, sharing our plans to step up our global role in PREVENTING EXTINCTION.
This week saw the publication of the long-awaited ‘Dasgupta Review’ of the ‘Economics of Biodiversity’, commissioned by the UK Government to look at how we value nature. We welcome this ground-breaking review which comes at a critical time as we consider the combined and inter-related challenges of the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and impending mass extinction.
For too long ecology and economics have been treated as separate disciplines and those who study and practice them part of opposing philosophies. Professor Dasgupta brings them together and presents the compelling case for natural capital and accounting to be brought into the way in which businesses and institutions and nations measure wealth and determine policy. For some time we have known and understood the vital services that nature provides and the intrinsic value to our health and well-being, many of which are set out in this review. Despite this the reluctance to build this in to our economic models and decision making has resulted in the seriously damaged planet that we have now. Recognition that our economies are embedded in nature is a vital first step to a new way of determining our future.
The review points out the link between a diverse economy and biodiversity in ecosystems – in both cases there is a strong positive relationship between diversity and resilience, and degradation of ecosystems leads to both ecological and economic collapse. Maintaining biodiversity through preventing extinction is therefore central to economic as well as ecological recovery.
Professor Dasgupta’s review provides a road map out of this impending disaster and presents a set of inspiring options for change that we must all now address. These are framed around three challenges for transformative change.
Firstly we must stop the net depletion of nature by ensuring that our demands on it do not exceed supply. Ensuring sustainability along entire supply chains, not just at the point of use needs to be part of achieving this. Some of the pioneering work that we are involved in with sustainable palm oil is starting to provide a model for this, but there is so much more that needs to be done. Part of the solution also lies with increasing natural capital through rewilding and ecosystem recovery which are at the heart of some of our global field programmes.
Secondly we must develop new ways of measuring wealth that accounts for and invests in natural assets and moves away from narrow measures such as GDP. We strongly welcome this.
Thirdly we must transform our institutions, especially finance and education systems, to put nature at the centre of their planning. We particularly welcome the emphasis on connection with nature and using education as a vehicle for making that connection. We are already very strongly committed to this through our work with schools young people and our campaign to put conservation at the heart of the curriculum.
The publication of this review feels like a game-changing moment, commissioned as it was by the UK Government, and endorsed and welcomed by a very wide range of senior people from all sections of our society and internationally. We congratulate Professor Dasgupta on his Review and look forward to playing our part in enabling the transformative change that he calls for in order to restore our relationship with nature.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday 31 October, of a second England-wide lockdown, we’re really sad to say that we are having to close our gates for the second time.
We welcome news that the application deadline for the Government’s Zoo Animals Fund has been extended. This is something we and other charity zoos have been calling for. However, since the fund was expanded back in August, only three grants have been awarded and little over £2 million of the £100 million pot has been spent. This is because the eligibility criteria is far too restrictive and the ambition of the funding too limited. It effectively requires a zoo to be on the verge of bankruptcy before it can access any funding, while any support for our vital conservation and education work – the reason we exist – is completely excluded. We urge the Government to use this extended timeframe as an opportunity to rethink and to make the changes required to ensure the money is put to good use and doesn’t go to waste.
OUR STATEMENT ON THE ZOO ANIMALS FUND – AUGUST 2020
While the announcement of the Government’s Zoo Animals Fund is welcome news for some zoos and aquariums, the £100m fund is again not applicable to all large charity zoos, including Chester Zoo. We find ourselves in the exact same situation as when the £100m Emergency Zoo Fund was announced previously, and the £14m Zoo Fund prior to that. We have no access to these funds and so we must continue to rely on the goodwill, compassion and amazing support of the public to Save Our Zoo.
As we’ve said many times, we are, of course, pleased to see some financial support for the zoo and aquarium sector. But, as we have also said many times, Chester Zoo is again not able to benefit given the current parameters that have been applied to the fund. Our mission to prevent extinction therefore remains at risk.
The Government has said it is continuing to talk to large zoos like us to explore ways of supporting us and our vital efforts to prevent extinction. But still there is nothing on the table. After significant time spent in lengthy, and what have been seemingly very positive discussions with Government representatives for several months, this is extremely disappointing for us. As a leading conservation and education charity of global importance, the aims of our species-saving conservation work, of our ground-breaking scientific research and of our vital education programmes in the UK and around the world, are broadly aligned with the Government’s own environmental objectives. So why aren’t they supporting us?
The Government has recognised the high running costs of caring for animals at zoos across the country. But it must also understand the far-reaching and long-term implications of COVID-19 on our critical work to protect threatened species globally.
For the zoos and aquariums that are able to benefit, the speed at which these funds are being disseminated to the places that desperately need it must urgently increase. Only just over £2m has been spent so far. It would be awful to think that these funds are in fact designed to do nothing more than achieve positive headlines for the Government. But what else is the point of announcing £100m of funding if zoos still can’t access it?
We urgently call on the Government to make changes to the scheme and ensure financial help also reaches large charity zoos. Currently, with no tailored funding or support from the Government, we will need to continue our fundraising efforts whilst opening to limited visitor numbers – once again relying on the incredible actions of the public to Save our Zoo.
Due to Storm Ciara the zoo will be CLOSED today, Sunday 9 February