News / Environment

Ten-year strategy for Bristol to confront ecological emergency

By ellie pipe, Thursday Sep 24, 2020

It’s not too late to reverse the unprecedented and escalating decline in wildlife, says the man leading Bristol’s response to the ecological emergency.

But urgent action is needed and that’s why a ten-year citywide strategy has been unveiled, outlining a series of solutions designed to confront the challenges faced, and increase the scale and speed of work to match the urgency of the issue.

Organisations from across the city combined efforts to develop the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy, identifying four key goals to protect wildlife, ecosystems and habitats, as part of a coordination drive to reverse the current rapid decline.

Its publication comes seven months after Bristol declared an ecological emergency and almost two years after the city became the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency.

Speaking about the new ten-tear strategy, unveiled on Thursday, Ian Barrett, the chief executive of Avon Wildlife Trust and chair of the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy working group, said: “It’s not too late to reverse the declines in wildlife that are undermining our planet’s natural life support systems. We know the changes that are needed to restore wildlife and ecosystems and, where they’re in place, they’re working.

“Over the next ten years, we need to put these changes in place in Bristol and surrounding areas to ensure that people and wildlife can survive and thrive.”

The four goals underpinning the strategy are:

1.       Space for nature: at least a third of land in Bristol is to be managed for the benefit of wildlife by 2030. This means finding new spaces for nature to thrive throughout the city’s urban landscape.

2.       Pesticides: reduce the use of pesticides in Bristol by at least half by 2030. This means challenging their use at all levels and finding alternatives.

3.       Pollution: 100 per cent of Bristol’s waterways need to have water quality that supports healthy wildlife by 2030. This means reducing pollution contaminating water.

4.       Our wider footprint: people and businesses need to reduce consumption of products that undermine the health of wildlife and ecosystems around the world. This means finding ways to help everyone better understand the impact of their actions.

The strategy pledges to reduce the use of pesticides in Bristol by at least half by 2030 – photo by Ellie Pipe

In January 2019, the council promised to seek an alternative to a pesticide called glyphosate in a bid to phase it out across the city within two years, following mounting pressure from campaigners.

A number of organisations and projects in Bristol are already making progress on protecting natural habitats. From linking local people of all ages with nature through Avon Wildlife Trust’s MyWildCity project, to doubling the city’s tree canopy through Replant Bristol. The West of England Nature Partnership is also working on a regional ‘Nature Recovery Network’ as part of a national initiative, which supports biodiversity.

“This is our city’s opportunity to come together and take positive action for nature, whilst tackling some of our biggest challenges,” said mayor Marvin Rees.

“We urge everyone in Bristol to reflect on how they can get involved so we can all feel the benefits of protecting our much-loved wildlife and natural spaces.

“We need to do things differently now to see real changes and it’s vital our actions are fair, just and inclusive.”

Rees has created a new cabinet post, held by Afzal Shah, to focus on climate, ecology and sustainable growth.

Main photo by Ellie Pipe

Read more: Bristol declare ecological emergency

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