Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has responded positively to Rishi Sunak’s address to global leaders this week, in which he stressed the importance of ending dependence on fossil fuels and acknowledged that “there is no solution to climate change without protecting and restoring nature”.
The Trust was encouraged by the new Prime Minister’s attendance at COP27, where the issue of “loss and damage” felt by poorer nations as a result of historic emissions is taking centre stage.
It also welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
Gary Mantle, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We cannot address climate change without nature’s recovery. Natural habitats have a critical role to play in storing carbon and helping us adapt to the impacts of climate change. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, we need urgent action by all nations, working together to avoid catastrophic warming.
“We are now urging the UK government to build on the Prime Minister’s commitments by taking action at home and supporting nature’s recovery.
“If the government increases efforts to protect at least 30% of land and sea by 2030 by strengthening environmental protections and setting ambitious targets, as promised under the Environment Act, we can both restore many of our wild places and mitigate the effects of climate change.”
In the 12 months since COP26, England experienced the driest July since 1935 and temperatures over 40˚C were recorded for the first time ever.
The hot and dry weather brought about by climate change left nature under pressure. Habitats across the country were left parched with wildlife suffering from overheating and a severe lack of water.
Water levels in chalk streams and ponds were exceptionally low, with water temperatures much higher than they should be, adversely impacting food sources for species such as otters, water voles and kingfishers.
Ponds and sections of streams dried up across Wiltshire, including a large pond at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Conigre Mead nature reserve in Melksham and tiered ponds at Kings Farm Wood near Wroughton.
The rainfall seen in recent months has not been enough to fully replenish reservoirs, aquifers, ponds, rivers and streams.
There were also reports of wildfires breaking out across the UK throughout the summer and even into autumn.
In August, the remnants of a fire were discovered close to an ancient oak tree just 50m from the edge of the Trust’s Green Lane Wood nature reserve on the edge of Trowbridge.
Even as late as October, another small fire had to be put out at Hagbourne Copse nature reserve in Swindon as dry leaves provided fuel for flames to spread.
Gary Mantle added: “Protecting nature and prioritising climate resilience is becoming even more critical in the wake of this recent extreme weather.
“Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is undertaking a raft of projects to help tackle the climate and ecological crises, including restoring wetlands, rivers, chalk downland and wildflower meadows.
“There are also simple actions that everyone can take at home and work, which are good for the planet and good for the pocket, from limiting water and electricity use, to reducing waste and gardening for wildlife.”
To find out more, visit www.wiltshirewildlife.org/actions-for-climate