Creating a Wilder Britain through a new Environment Act: Avon Wildlife Trust shows Bristol West MP what’s at stake for nature

Monday 17th September 2018

AWT Chief Executive, Ian Barrett, today met Bristol West MP, Thangam Debbonaire, to set out how a new, ambitious Environment Bill is the only way to secure a healthy natural environment in the future. In July the Government announced it would introduce an Environment Bill to underpin its 25 Year Environment Plan in support of its pledge to leave the environment in a better state for future generations. Now Avon Wildlife Trust is campaigning with The Wildlife Trusts nationally for an Environment Bill to ensure nature can recover and benefit wildlife as well as allow people access to wildlife-rich spaces and improve their health and wellbeing.

During a meeting and walk round Brandon Hill in Bristol and overlooking many of the city’s valuable wild spaces, Ian Barrett highlighted the opportunities for nature’s recovery. With 56% of species shown by the 2016 State of Nature report to have declined, and valuable habitats like wildflower meadows depleted, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put in place measurable goals for nature’s recovery with strong legislation to hold the government to account.

Last week the Government published an Agriculture Bill which proposes a change in the way taxpayers’ money will be spent towards environmental ‘public goods’ – including clean air, pollination, water and wildlife-rich countryside. This is essential if the 70% of our landscape which is farmed becomes land which can support nature and wildlife as well as food production. Detailed funding information is now needed from the Treasury to underpin this new approach.

Ian Barrett, Chief Executive, Avon Wildlife Trust says;
“We all depend on the natural environment for our air and water quality, for healthy soils, abundant wildlife and for all of us wherever we live to have access to high quality natural green spaces. But for too long these vital services nature provides have been taken for granted and squandered. We have become one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. It’s time for strong legislation to commit this and future governments to act for nature’s recovery so that we can genuinely offer future generations a wildlife-rich natural environment to inherit and enjoy – not simply make empty promises.

This is not just a rural issue. In our towns and cities – including in Thangam Debbonaire’s Bristol West constituency – we need to value and connect with the natural environment, creating wildlife-rich spaces in our parks, gardens, allotments, school grounds and businesses.”

Thangam Debbonaire MP says;
“We should be making more room for wildlife. Even relatively small wild areas in cities, such as those I am visiting today can play a role. As species champion for the Shrill Carder Bee I have seen how important it is to create habitats for wildlife. And we can all play a part. On the advice from the Avon Wildlife Trust I have adapted my own garden to be more wildlife friendly, including building homes for hedgehogs.”

Avon Wildlife Trust, together with The Wildlife Trusts nationally, is campaigning for an Environment Act with strong targets, a strong and independent environmental watchdog and for mapping of Nature Recovery Networks to protect and join-up important places for wildlife and bring nature into every neighbourhood. Opinion polls constantly show how much the British public recognise the importance of natural places, and there’s a wealth of evidence of the link between access to nature and health and wellbeing - with research showing that people with easy access to nature are 40% less likely to become overweight or obese. The Wilder Britain campaign will encourage people of all ages raise their voices in standing up for nature.

ENDS

Contact

Naomi Fuller, Communications and Marketing Manager
Naomi.Fuller@avonwildlifetrust.org.uk
0117 9177270 (ext 206) mobile 07458 091433