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Comment: Nature is our Greatest Ally

We need to be protecting nature now more than ever.

The latest ‘State of Nature Report’ shows that the UK has seen significant loss of its plants, animals and fungi and is now one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth, with nearly one in six species threatened with extinction. This is despite the UK Government’s pledge ‘to make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it’. The Wildlife Trusts have recently published details of the key Government commitments on nature that have not been met and many organisations have rightly voiced their anger that the recent King’s Speech included little focus on nature or the environment.

Enhancing nature is one of the eight core themes of our Sustainability Roadmap to 2030, but it should arguably be a cross-cutting enabler across all other themes.

We know that if we improve our natural assets and green spaces in a considered way, it will help to improve opportunities for wildlife to thrive, and help to reverse the rapid national decline in biodiversity.

But we also know that by rewilding, tree planting and making improvements to nature in the right places and in the right way, it can also help to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration
  • Reduce flood risk and provide opportunities for shading during heatwaves
  • Remove harmful air pollutants from the atmosphere
  • Boost health and wellbeing as people are encouraged to exercise and spend time in the outdoors
  • Enable local growth through increased tourism opportunities and businesses simply wanting to base themselves in a more pleasant environment

To benefit nature we need to work collaboratively and involve conservationists, farmers, businesses and the public sector. Every local authority will need to produce a Local Nature Recovery Strategy by March 2025 and Biodiversity Net Gain, a mechanism to ensure habitats are left in a better state than they were before development took place, should become mandatory next year. We are connected to experts in our networks on these topics, so reach out to us if you’d like to find out more.

In the meantime, through our long-term collaboration with the Environment Agency and working directly with other members such as Herefordshire Council, we are currently helping to develop a series of documents that aim to showcase nature as an enabler to improve climate resilience. This includes:

  • The forthcoming publication of Weathering the Storm for Agriculture, a guide to help farmers manage their land to better adapt to climate change
  • A compendium of case studies looking at practical examples of adaptation in local councils (published last year) and NHS Trusts (to be published next month), many of which are nature-based solutions.
  • An adaptation plan for Herefordshire, which includes a focus on the natural environment, building on the West Midlands-wide Plan we produced in 2021.

We have also been supporting The Midlands Forest Network Partnership with preliminary work on an audience engagement plan for the Midlands Forest Network.

Get in touch with us for more information on all the above.

Image: Flooded land near Hereford (C) Herefordshire Council

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