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Bristol publishes roadmap for tackling ecological emergency

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An ambitious strategy for addressing the ecological emergency in Bristol has been published.

The One City Ecological Emergency Strategy was launched by the One City Environment Board today (24 September 2020) having been developed by a working group of over 30 organisations from across the city. The strategy sets out the action required to reverse declines in wildlife and restore the natural systems on which we all depend.

Bristol was the first major city in the UK to declare an ecological emergency in February this year, with a joint declaration by Bristol City Council and Avon Wildlife Trust, supported by city partners.

This was in response to local and national findings that nature is declining at an alarming rate, posing huge risks to food production, clean air and flood defences, in addition to the risk of extinction for large numbers of species in the UK.

Bristol has already seen big drops in once-common species. Populations of swifts and starlings have declined by 96% between 1994 and 2014 in the West of England, and populations of linnets have declined by 80% in the same period [1].

The escalating threats to wildlife and ecosystems also impact our opportunities to connect with nature, which can bring significant benefits to our health and well-being. A recent survey found that 81% of people felt that the Coronavirus outbreak has shown the importance of protecting and restoring nature, while 89% agreed that increasing the amount of accessible greenspace would help to improve people’s health [2].

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and co-chair of the Environmental Sustainability Board, said:

“We are proud Bristol was the first city in the UK to declare an Ecological Emergency, and this strategy is an important step in taking concrete action to address nature’s decline.

“Investing in nature is good for wildlife and our health and well-being, but it is also great value for money and vital for maintaining the ecosystems on which we all depend. We are experiencing a challenging time as we recover from Covid-19, so it is more important that we work together to reverse declines in wildlife and restore a healthy natural environment that wildlife, and everyone in Bristol, can enjoy.

“Achieving the scale of change needed has to be a city-wide effort, and there are ways organisations, communities and individuals in Bristol can get involved. We will also need support from regional and national partners and policymakers, and will work with neighbouring local authorities, WECA and our national government so that we can deliver this ambition”.

The strategy sets out four key strategic goals to be achieved by 2030: at least 30% of land in Bristol is managed for the benefit of wildlife; pesticide use to be reduced by at least 50%; 100% of Bristol’s waterways have excellent water quality which supports health wildlife; and people and businesses reduce consumption of products that undermine the health of wildlife and ecosystems around the world. For each goal there are actions that need to be taken for it to be achieved.

Chair of the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy Working Group, Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust, added:

“Rapid, transformative action is needed to help nature recover. It is not too late to make a difference and prevent the catastrophic consequences of the decline of wildlife. This strategy is a huge step in the right direction and could position Bristol as an example for others to follow.

We now need the whole city to come together to support the strategy and take the urgent next steps needed to meet its ambitions.”

Further reading 

To read the strategy, please go to: https://www.bristolonecity.com/environment/the-environment-board/

[1] Data from https://bristolnats.org.uk/

[2] RSPB survey

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