On 4 February this year, Bristol became the first major city to declare an ecological emergency, with Avon Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Ian Barrett, joining Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees in making the declaration with the support of key city organisations.
The declaration was made against a backdrop of accelerating loss of wildlife and ecosystem breakdown globally, with impacts now felt across our region.
Avon Wildlife Trust is working with the four councils throughout the West of England to take the action needed for nature’s recovery through the protection and restoration of habitats and wildlife corridors. We are calling on each of these councils to declare an ecological emergency to focus effort and increase momentum on tackling ecological breakdown alongside the climate crisis as a twin threat facing us.
Bath & North East Somerset
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet meeting provided an opportunity on 13 February, when our Chief Executive, Ian Barrett, called for the council to make the ecological emergency as much as a priority as climate change. Ian said:
“If we manage to transition to a zero carbon economy and fix the climate crisis, but our ecosystems collapse, we still face an existential threat to our future. The council’s draft strategy talks about the natural emergency, but the priorities and actions set out are all about carbon. This is only half of the solution. Declaring an ecological emergency is a small step, but could provide a crucial rallying point for action to save our natural environment for people and wildlife”
Bristol Mayoral Elections
We are also making the case for the ecological emergency to be a key issue in the Bristol Mayoral elections on 7 May and are meeting the candidates to ensure that they are aware of the seriousness of these issues.
We are continuing to talk to the Labour candidate, current Mayor Marvin Rees, following Bristol’s ecological emergency declaration on 4 February. Work is now underway with city partners to develop an action plan by the summer to tackle the crisis.
A visit to the Trust’s headquarters and our nature reserve at Bennett’s Patch and White’s Paddock provided the opportunity to raise the ecological emergency with Green Party candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven. Staff spoke to Sandy about the action needed to reverse wildlife declines and ensure healthy ecosystems continue to support the wellbeing of people and wildlife.
We will be making the case to Liberal Democrat candidate, Mary Page, at a city wildlife site visit later this month and are seeking similar discussions with the Conservative Party candidate, Samuel Williams.
(These are all of the declared candidates as of 13 February 2020. Further candidates will be invited as they declare).
Trust members will have the opportunity to quiz candidates at an environment hustings we are organising with the Bristol Green Capital Partnership for late April. Watch our website for further details.
Photo left to right: Green party mayoral candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Avon Wildlife Trust chief executive Ian Barrett, and Avon Wildlife Trust volunteer warden Tim Clarke at Avon Wildlife Trust's Bennett's Patch & White's Paddock nature reserve.