Avon Wildlife Trust welcomes Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Declaration of an Ecological Emergency

Joe McSorley

Bath and North East Somerset Council declared an Ecological Emergency at a Full Council meeting on Thursday 23 July.

Avon Wildlife Trust has been calling on Councils across the West of England to declare an Ecological Emergency and take urgent action to reverse declines in wildlife and restore the natural systems on which we all depend.     

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Declaration sets out the actions that the Council is taking to address the Ecological Emergency alongside the Climate Emergency that it declared in March 2019. Action on these twin emergencies will aid in nature’s recovery in Bath and the surrounding area and we look forward to working with B&NES Council as this comes to life.

Councillor Jess David (Moorlands), he B&NES Member Advocate for Biodiversity, who proposed the motion to Declare an Ecological Emergency said:

“The Ecological Emergency refers to the damage to the natural environment, biodiversity and ecosystems caused by human activity. Over-exploitation of the earth’s resources, coupled with poor land management and industrialised agriculture, are risking mass extinction of species and destruction of irreplaceable habitats.

“We are dependent on the natural environment and ecosystems for clean water and air, food and protection, essential for our survival and the survival of our society and economy. This is a global and a local problem.

“The need to radically and quickly cut carbon emissions to prevent further global heating is the focus of the Climate Emergency declaration. Many actions which protect and restore the natural environment can also increase absorption of carbon from the atmosphere - tackling both emergencies in parallel.

“By adopting this motion, we will fully recognise the Council’s core policy of tackling the climate and nature emergency. We will also highlight what is already being done at local, regional and national level, as well as what more we need to do.

Jess David in longer grass for pollinators, Bath

“A lot of work is already underway in B&NES, such as the preparation of a Tree and Woodland Strategy. Policies and plans will need to be updated and we will need to work with partners. Some of this work will be complex; for example, around land use and long-term planning.

“However, simple actions can also make a big difference. For example, changes to the grass cutting rota have allowed more flowers to bloom, thus supporting insect pollinators and the food chain they support.

“What is needed now is determination to reverse the trend of decline that we have seen over the last 50 years and move towards habitat restoration and nature recovery in all that we do.”

Avon Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Ian Barrett, said:

“I am delighted that Bath and North East Somerset Council has taken the important step of  declaring an ecological emergency. Urgent action is needed to halt accelerating declines in wildlife and restore the natural systems on which life on Earth depends. Nationally, we have lost more than 44 million songbirds and 30 million hedgehogs (95%) since the 1950s and there is a similar picture locally where 96% of our swifts and starlings have disappeared since the 1990s. Bath and North East Somerset Council has ambitious plans for restoring nature in the local area, which is great to see. The Wildlife Trusts would like more cities, towns and districts around the country to follow Bath and North East Somerset’s lead in declaring an Ecological Emergency and taking action to restore Britain’s depleted natural environment for the benefit of people and wildlife”.

Swift in flight

Common Swift Apus apus Norfolk summer - David Tipling/2020VISION

Bringing Wildlife Back

It’s not too late to bring wildlife back to our towns, cities and green spaces. By working together we can connect up our landscape through nature recovery networks and restore wildlife-rich spaces in our region to help nature recover on a grand scale.

You can help by donating to our ecological emergency appeal here