Planting more trees and restoring natural habitats are just two of the objectives behind Bath & North East Somerset Council declaring an Ecological Emergency in response to the escalating threat to wildlife and ecosystems.
The declaration recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy and provides a statement of intent to protect our wildlife and habitats, enabling residents to benefit from a green, nature-rich environment.
It builds on the council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency last March and recognises that the two threats, caused by the over-exploitation of the earth’s resources and poor land management, are having a devastating impact on the planet and our wellbeing.
Councillor Sarah Warren, joint cabinet member for Climate Emergency, said: “I’m delighted the council unanimously backed the motion to declare an Ecological Emergency. It is a sobering thought that 15% of the UK’s wildlife is now at risk of extinction. This is largely a result of a critical decline in biodiversity: the loss of habitats and the connectivity of habitats; the decline in pollinators that are crucial to food supply and a decline in the health and quality of soil. We must address these issues. We’re already making a difference, for example through the promotion of grassland habitat diversity and additional tree planting, but there’s much more work to do.”
Since declaring a Climate Emergency in March 2019, the council has acted quickly to provide leadership to enable Bath and North East Somerset to meet the challenging target of becoming carbon neutral within a decade. Addressing the Climate Emergency shapes everything the council does and tackling the Ecological Emergency will now form part of that commitment.
Bath and North East Somerset already has a long and strong history of positive work on biodiversity, landscape and ecology, including a range of strategies, partnerships and projects, both at local and West of England level that are delivering action related to the Ecological Emergency. However, the council will now look at what further steps can be taken as it draws up an Ecological Emergency Action Plan.
In declaring an Ecological Emergency, the council has made a number of commitments, including:
- working with partners locally and regionally to drive coordinated leadership and collaborative action
- resisting the destruction of habitats through planning policy and development management
- reviewing the Bath and North East Somerset Green Infrastructure Strategy
- identifying appropriate areas for habitat restoration
- continuing to collaborate with communities, businesses and other organisations, existing networks and partnerships, schools, colleges and universities, to improve ecological literacy and encourage greater biodiversity, tree-planting and management.