The unprecedented and escalating threat to wildlife across the UK has prompted Bristol to declare an ecological emergency.
The public statement aims to highlight the loss of biodiversity and decline in species and recognise the importance of nature, as well as the need to restore lost habitats and champion sustainable development.
In the UK, 41 per cent of wild species are in decline and 15 per cent of British wildlife is now at risk of extinction, according to the State of Nature report 2019.
The declaration was made on Tuesday, February 4 by mayor Marvin Rees and Ian Barrett, the CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust, with the backing of other organisations.
It comes after Bristol became the first city council in the UK to declare a climate emergency in 2018. Green councillor Carla Denyer, who proposed the original motion, recently wrote about the need to recognise the ecological threat facing the planet.
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Speaking about this latest pledge, Rees said, “It is not too late to start the recovery of our wildlife. We must work together to grasp this last chance and put things right for nature and wildlife in our city.
“This declaration will provide a focus for the whole city to come together and take positive action.
“Our commitment to this will extend beyond parks and green spaces. We need our buildings, streets and open spaces to support wildlife and create a more nature-friendly city, and we need new developments to do the same.
“We can’t solve this issue overnight but if we make sure we consider the ecology when we build each new development and take major city decisions, then we can start to make major progress.”
He added that the council and other city organisations will work to secure the policies, funding and powers needed to restore nature nationally and locally.
The mayor has asked the One City environment and sustainability board to work with partners on a plan, setting out the actions that will support and add to existing initiatives.
Priorities will include looking at ways to stop wildlife habitats from being destroyed, managing land in a sustainable way that is sympathetic to wildlife and creating and caring for wildlife-rich spaces in every part of the city and across the region.
“The twin threats facing our natural world and our own lives – climate breakdown and ecological emergency – are now felt everywhere including in Bristol as we witness dwindling wildlife and the loss of wild spaces,” said Barrett.
“We can’t wait for national governments or international bodies to lead the way – we have to show that through collective action we can make Bristol a city where wildlife can thrive and the natural world can flourish.
“This is about stopping the loss forever of much-loved species which were once common in gardens, parks, waterside and green spaces across the city – swifts, starlings, hedgehogs and butterflies.
“But it’s about more than that, because we face losing all that wildlife abundance and a thriving natural world provides us with – clean air, clean water, healthy soils, food crops, natural flood defences and beautiful spaces to enjoy. All of us – from individuals to large city organisations – can now take action and from planting a single window box for pollinators, to a whole workforce effort for nature – all actions are transformational.”
Main photo thanks to Bristol City Council