I understand that there is a great strength of feeling around this issue. The Government is committed to doing all it can to support wildlife and the environment, both in the UK and internationally, and I am pleased that the recent Queen's Speech reaffirmed that Ministers will be delivering on the manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered species.
The consultation on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies, which closed in February 2020, was the first step in fulfilling this commitment and provided an opportunity for respondents to offer views on which species they considered needed further restrictions. I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the publication of the Government response to this consultation and accompanying call for evidence on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies. However, Ministers are continuing to work on this important area and will publish a response as soon as they are able to do so.
Climate change and global biodiversity decline are interlinked threats for wildlife and people. I know that biodiversity is declining at a dangerous and unprecedented speed, and species extinction rates are accelerating, with up to 1 million species threatened. Overexploitation is one of the drivers of species extinction and additional pressures on vulnerable species can result from unsustainable or inappropriately managed activity. I believe that transformative changes are needed to restore and protect nature.
In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the UK Government committed to providing international leadership in protecting and improving international biodiversity and undertaking international action to protect endangered species. This international leadership is underpinned by a strong commitment to ensuring that the UK’s domestic policy does not threaten the conservation of species abroad. While I recognise that some conservationists believe trophy hunting can be an effective conservation tool, supporting local livelihoods and attracting revenues for other conservation activities, it is also important to acknowledge concerns around the practice of trophy hunting. I therefore look forward to seeing how the Government's proposed action addresses these concerns.