A visit to Willsbridge Mill nature reserve provided the opportunity to explore the action needed to restore wildlife with Kingswood MP, Chris Skidmore, who is currently leading work to develop ideas for the Conservative Party’s next national manifesto.
The Trust’s Chief Executive, Ian Barrett and Conservation Director, Amy Coulthard, highlighted the importance of ‘wildlife corridors’ in protecting and restoring wildlife throughout the country, particularly in areas like South Gloucestershire where more than 32,000 new homes will be built over the next 20 years. More than 44 million birds have disappeared from the UK countryside since 1966, 56% of our native species are in decline and almost 1,200 species - such as the high brown fritillary butterfly - are at risk of extinction from the UK. Wildlife corridors are essential for the future of many species, whose habitats have been reduced to small fragments of their former extent by previous development and changing farming practices. Wildlife cannot survive for long in isolated pockets, and wildlife corridors provide vital links that allow species such as hedgehogs and otters to survive and thrive.
The Wildlife Trusts’ report Towards a Wilder Britain sets out a vision for restoring the abundance of wildlife in rural and urban areas throughout the country. It proposes that natural habitats and wildlife corridors should be protected as part of a new ‘Nature Recovery Network’ planned and delivered locally.
Chris Skidmore MP said:
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity today to meet with Avon Wildlife Trust at Willsbridge Mill to discuss A Wilder Britain and look at how we can build wildlife habitats into our environment”
Avon Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Ian Barrett said:
“Willsbridge Mill is a perfect place to explore the green spaces and wildlife corridors we need to support wildlife in South Gloucestershire and throughout the country. There is going to be an enormous amount of development in this area over the next 20 years and we need to ensure that this is built in a way that does not further fragment and isolate wildlife habitats. The Government can help by putting in place a strong framework for the creation and protection of networks of wildlife corridors to maintain vital connections between natural habitats”.
Avon Wildlife Trust is one of 46 UK Wildlife Trusts calling for the Government to help wildlife recover by overseeing the development of Nature Recovery Networks that protect and restore natural habitats and wildlife corridors. The Government has promised a new Environment Act within the next year, and The Wildlife Trusts are calling for this to back the creation of the Nature Recovery Network, as well as setting new legally binding goals for nature’s recovery.
Opinion polls consistently show how much the British public recognise the importance of natural places, with the vast majority wanting to see stronger protection for wildlife. Recently, more than 10,000 people joined the People’s Walk for Wildlife in London to call on Government to act to stop the decline of species and habitats and make space for wildlife and its former abundance.
Naomi Fuller, Communications and Marketing Manager
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- Chris Skidmore chairs Conservative Policy Commission: https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/07/chris-skidmore-how-the-conservartive-partys-new-policy-commission-will-work.html
- 32,500 new homes for South Gloucestershire: West of England Joint Spatial Plan (pdf, p18)
- 56% of UK’s wildlife in decline and 15% at risk of extinction: State of Nature UK Report, 2016
- Support for wildlife protection post-Brexit: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/yougov-survey-brexit-environment-august-2016-101683.pdf
- People’s Walk for Wildlife: https://www.chrispackham.co.uk/the-peoples-walk-for-wildlife