Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust urges councils to declare nature emergency to protect habitats

COUNCILS must declare a nature emergency and work quickly to save our wildlife, according to a trust.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 11:04 am
Farlington Marshes nature reserve in Portsmouth Picture: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is calling on local authorities to do more to protect wildlife and nature, and believe that announcing a nature emergency is the best course of action.

This, the trust says, needs to be considered alongside the climate emergency, which has already been declared by several authorities - including Hampshire County Council.

Sienna Somers, the wildlife trusts' policy and advocacy manager, said: 'Nature’s recovery is vital for tackling climate the climate crisis.

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'Thriving habitats can safely lock up vast amounts of carbon, while providing other vital benefits that help us adapt, such as flood prevention, clean water and improved health and wellbeing.

'Many councils have declared climate emergencies, but few are recognising the nature emergency and the need for nature’s recovery to tackle these twin crises together.

'Nature’s recovery has never been more important, and councils have huge power to halt the decline of nature locally.'

District councils for Gosport, Fareham and the New Forest are among the few in Hampshire that have not yet declared a climate emergency.

Fareham's executive member for planning and development, Cllr Simon Martin, said the council is working to protect wildlife habitats - but did not say if the council would consider declaring a nature emergency.

He said: 'We actively manage 25 sites, covering approximately 122 hectares - these sites hold in the region of 210,000 to 220,000 mature trees and are designated as wildlife habitat comprising woodland, grassland and wetland areas.

'A significant number of projects within our Climate Change Action Plan will result in a direct positive impact on local natural habitats. For example, we will support wetland projects and the creation of habitats.

'The council recently approved a strategic approach to pro-active tree planting, focusing on larger sites which will bring a number of environmental benefits including the creation of larger wildlife habitats.'

Cllr Martin added that new flower beds are also being created to improve bio-diversity.

Cllr Zoe Huggins, who chairs Gosport Borough Council's climate change board, added: 'Gosport Borough Council has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time, and we’ve published a climate change strategy and action plan detailing how we’ll achieve this.

'We share information and best practice with other local authorities and collaborate on areas such as home energy use reduction schemes for residents, increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points, and improving infrastructure to encourage sustainable transport.'

Hampshire County Council was also contacted for comment.