Nature has suffered serious declines for decades with 26% of UK mammals in danger of disappearing altogether and hedgehogs, red squirrels, bats, turtle doves, cuckoo, water voles and basking sharks all at risk. It is not only individual species that are threatened; the collapse in the abundance of nature also means many of our ecosystems are not functioning as they should.
Lack of wild places and fragmentation of those that remain has had a disastrous effect. Only 10% of land is protected in the UK and much of this is in poor condition. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts recently called on Government to introduce a new landscape designation for England called ‘Wildbelt.’ This would be for the purpose of putting land into nature’s recovery, such as through the creation of wildlife corridors, natural regeneration of woodland, restoration of wetlands, and rewilding.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal – to raise £30 million and kickstart the process of securing at least 30% of land and sea in nature’s recovery by 2030. We will buy land to expand and join-up our nature reserves; we’ll work with others to show how to bring wildlife back to their land, and we’re calling for nature’s recovery through a new package of policy measures including big new ideas like Wildbelt.
“The next ten years must be a time of renewal, of rewilding our lives, of green recovery. We all need nature more than ever and when we succeed in reaching 30 by 30 we’ll have wilder landscapes that store carbon and provide on-your-doorstep nature for people too. Everyone can support and help us to succeed.”
Funds raised by The Wildlife Trusts’ new 30 by 30 appeal will go towards nature recovery projects that will put new land aside for nature as well as repair and link-up existing, fragmented, wild areas to enable wildlife to move around. The aim is to bring nature everywhere Including to the places where people live.
The 30 by 30 projects range from land acquisition to peatland repair and species reintroduction. Examples include:
- Lost fenland to be restored – Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust aims to restore 50 hectares of the county’s lost peat-fenland at Bourne North Fen to become a home for a wide variety of wildlife, linking up important nature reserves, creating a multi-purpose wetland which will store water for agriculture, improve water quality for consumers, and underpin a local eco-tourism economy.
- Repairing peatland to lock-up carbon and help wildlife – Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s pioneering carbon farm at Winmarleigh is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK. Drained for agriculture in the 1970s the carbon farm is part of a project across five European countries to see how peatlands capture carbon. Work has started to rewet fields and plant over 100,000 plugs of sphagnum moss.
- Beaver reintroduction and farmland bird recovery – Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have plans to reintroduce beavers to the Island. A complex of wetland nature reserves in the Eastern Yar Valley offers an exciting opportunity for this wonderful ecosystem engineer work its magic. The Trust is also working on returning missing farmland birds such as cirl bunting and chough to the Island.
- Converting low-grade agricultural land into nature areas near homes – Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is changing the way nature reserves are acquired giving highest priority to land with low existing wildlife value where the potential for biodiversity gain is greatest. These areas will be transformed into new species-rich wild areas that will be freely accessible to people and will help capture carbon and prevent flooding.
Liz Bonnin, science and natural history broadcaster and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts says:
“We know that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world and we’re facing the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Put plainly, our wildlife is disappearing and at an alarming rate. Some of our most-loved species are threatened. We’re talking about hedgehogs, barn owls and red squirrels – not the exotic wildlife we think of when we talk about extinction. But there is hope. The Wildlife Trusts have an audacious plan to raise £30 million to heal at least 30% of our land and sea for nature so it can recover by 2030. We can all help them make it happen.”
Alison Steadman, actor and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts says:
“Over the last few years, I have been in awe of young people’s concern for the planet, the school strikes and their passion for the natural world. The older generation, too, have been marching for change because they remember a time when things were different.
“I am supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ inspiring 30 by 30 appeal because we all need nature in our lives once more. This ambitious campaign will unite people in working for a common goal that benefits us all – one of nature’s recovery. We can all do something to help wildlife thrive again – we must do this for nature, for ourselves and for future generations.”
Richard Walker, MD of Iceland and Ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts says:
“During lockdown people across the country reconnected with the natural world around them, appreciating the positive impact nature had on their health and wellbeing. Now, as we start to recover, we need to put nature at the heart of our plans. For too long we’ve taken it for granted. The Wildlife Trusts are calling on every one of us – people, businesses, local authorities and government agencies – to join them in achieving this vision. By working together we can ensure 30% of the UK land and seas are restored and protected for nature’s recovery. As a leader in the business sector, I know that it’s my responsibility to help protect nature in the communities we serve. That’s why I’m supporting and working with The Wildlife Trusts having seen the benefits of their vital work across the country.”