20 April 2016

Are we listening to the scientific evidence?

Members -Conference -Oct 2014-029The next Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Game and Wildlife Conservation takes place this month to discuss using scientific evidence to protect our wildlife.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Director of Policy, Dr Alastair Leake, will join guest speakers, and members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to look into how science and research can help develop wildlife laws and regulations. The meeting takes place in Westminster on 26 April.

Scientific research is essential to the development of policies to protect our wildlife and the environment; our laws, regulations and guidance must be founded in sound science. Yet separating science and emotion can be challenging, with scientific evidence sometimes ignored or misrepresented. Recent examples of topics causing controversy include genetically modified food, the use of lead shot, and the banning of neonicotinoid insecticides.

At the Game and Wildlife APPG we will hear scientists, MPs and policymakers discuss controversial topics where the debate has not been informed by independent research, and how we overcome the challenge of science being misrepresented to decision-makers and the public.

Special guest speakers include Angela Smith MP, who was involved in the debate on whether to add fluoride to water. She continues to take interest in countryside matters, recently serving as Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Rob Yorke, independent rural commentator, is another guest speaker. About the APPG, Mr Yorke says: “We must explore how science can help inform us to make decisions that aim to reflect public opinion and deliver public benefit – not an easy matter under the glare of a media seeking headline-grabbing, polarised views.”

The GWCT’s Policy Officer for Scotland, Gemma Hopkinson, says: “It is important that the Game and Wildlife Conservation APPG addresses challenging topics. Our next meeting promises to be an excellent opportunity to hear and understand about the importance of science to policy decision-making. This is particularly relevant to areas of conflict or where the policy direction is unclear. We are very much looking forward to hearing from our excellent guest speakers, who will cover a range of relevant topics to kick-start the debate.”

The GWCT will be following up the discussions and topics raised at Westminster in the coming weeks.

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line - at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Joel Holt
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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