Another 1,500 square miles of countryside will be protected to “support the recovery of nature”, Downing Street announced tonight.
Boris Johnson will promise to protect 30% of UK land by 2030 when he signs the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature at a virtual United Nations event on Monday.
But the Prime Minister must strike deals with the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to meet the vow.
Existing National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas account for about 26% of land in England.
Another four per cent – more than 400,000 hectares and equivalent to the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined – will be protected according to Mr Johnson, who previously declared he wants to “build, build, build” the country’s way back to prosperity in the aftermath of the coronavirus recession.
The PM will warn countries to “act right now” to reverse biodiversity loss and prevent more species becoming extinct.
He will say: “We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets.
“We must act now – right now.
“We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate.
“Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all.
“Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.”
The 10-point Leaders’ Pledge includes promising to “prioritise a green recovery from coronavirus”; “commit to sustainable production, consumption and food systems”; and end the illegal wildlife trade.