7th July 2017

Helen Hayes MP attended an award ceremony in Westminster on Monday 3 July to mark the first anniversary of the Species Champions project and celebrate the recruitment of 39 MPs from across the political spectrum. The most actively involved MPs received awards from TV presenter Steve Backshall, recognising their efforts for nature conservation in Parliament and out in the field.

Helen Hayes MP collecting her common pipistrelle poster from Kit Stoner (Joint CEO of BCT)

The Species Champions project brings together MPs and conservationists from a partnership of 9 wildlife organisations to work on behalf of threatened species which range from the swift to the Atlantic salmon and the small copper butterfly to the greater horseshoe bat.

Helen Hayes MP is working on behalf of the common pipistrelle in Dulwich and West Norwood and in Westminster.

This is an important time for MPs to be speaking up for wildlife. Last year's State of Nature report highlighted the ongoing declines of over half the species studied, with more than one in ten at risk of extinction. Leaving the EU will present both risks and opportunities for the environment. During the legislative process MPs will have a critical role in ensuring the new laws work to secure a thriving natural world.

At the ceremony MPs were asked to sign the Greener UK Pledge for the Environment. The pledge calls upon MPs to work to establish the UK as a world leader in the environment by committing to match or exceed the current protections we have in place for nature.

Steve Backshall said 'One of the great challenges we face in conservation, is giving habitats a name and a character. The best way of doing that is to focus on the trials and tribulations of the enigmatic species that live there. Our species champions are MPs who have focused on some of the rare and little known plants and animals that live in their constituency, from the horrid ground weaver (not horrid at all) to the snakes head fritillary (not actually a snakes head!) they've given a voice to fascinating species, and given their constituents and fellow politicians a reason to care.'

Kit Stoner and Joe Nunez-Mino talking about bats to Steve Backshall

Helen Hayes MP said:

"I'm very pleased to champion the common pipistrelle. This species of bat can be seen in the green spaces of my constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood as well as in lots of other urban and rural settings across the UK. Watching the aerial acrobatics of common pipistrelles as they hunt insects at night is a pleasure that everyone should have the opportunity to witness. I am delighted to add my voice to that of Bat Conservation Trust in order to speak up for these wonderful but sadly undervalued and misunderstood animals."