Today the Ivory Bill will be introduced to Parliament and there has been coverage of this latest stage of the legislation to implement a UK sales ban on ivory in the Independent.

The introduction of this Bill means that robust measures set out last month by Environment Secretary, Michael Gove are a step closer to becoming law, and helping to protect elephants for future generations.

The Bill covers ivory items of all ages, not only those produced after a certain date, subject to some narrow, carefully-defined exemptions. The maximum penalty for breaching the ban will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

This latest progression of the Ivory Bill to Parliament follows widespread engagement with environmental groups and the antiques trade sector as well as the general public. More than 70,000 people and organisations responded to Defra’s consultation on an ivory ban late last year, with over 88 percent of responses in favour measures to ban ivory sales in the UK.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said:

Elephants are one of the world’s most iconic animals and we must do all we can to protect them for future generations. That’s why we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales. The overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation shows the strength of public feeling to protect these magnificent animals. We have acted quickly in introducing this Bill, less than six weeks after publishing our consultation responses. I hope this serves as a clear sign of our global leadership on this vital issue.

The UK Government has announced the latest round of successful funding bids from the Darwin Initiative to deliver on flagship commitments set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Gove, awarded a total package of £10.6 million to 52 projects over the next three years from across the globe that will support and enhance biodiversity. Since 1992, the Darwin Initiative has funded 1,055 projects from 159 countries, with a value of £140 million. Gove said:

Through the Darwin Initiative, we are driving change to protect and enhance international biodiversity. Our 25 Year Environment Plan has set the priorities for funding and demonstrates the UK’s global leadership.

There has been coverage in specialist media including Government Europa, Devdiscourse and Energy Live News.

One of the projects to receive funding is ‘Biodiversity and Agriculture: addressing scale insect threats in Kenya’ and will be led by the Natural History Museum. Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, said:

The role of the Natural History Museum is to inform debate, empower better decisions and lead progress in natural science – sustaining and improving life on Earth. The funding we have received through the Darwin Initiative is allowing us to do just that.

We have participated in 44 Darwin-funded projects to date, from fellowships and awards to major projects. The latest funding is allowing us to collaborate with expert partners in Kenya to help communities better identify, target and respond to invasions of scale insects. These pests damage native trees and crops in Kenya and can cause up to 91 per cent of crop losses but often pesticides are misapplied, damaging both crop yields and the environment. This project will empower communities to improve agricultural practices and protect the nature around them.

A full list of projects, including a number of small schemes, to be supported by the Darwin Initiative is available on GOV.UK.