Saturday sees attention at COP26 move to the topic of ‘Nature’ and we take this opportunity to reflect on the words of Councillor Seb Lowe, at the recent Rugby Climate Summit:
“The damaging effects which human activity and climate change can have on the natural environment have been laid out, in the starkest possible forms, for many years now. And yet, it continues.
"According to a recent study, the number of trees worldwide has decreased by 46 percent since the start of civilization. We know that in addition to the loss of habitat, deforestation reduces the ability of forests to provide the critical benefit of absorbing carbon, which helps to mitigate the effects of climate change. And yet, it continues.
"More broadly, we know that habitat loss - the elimination or alteration of the conditions necessary for animals and plants to survive - not only impacts individual species but impacts the health of the global ecosystem. And yet, it continues.
"We have seen that people care about the natural environment and habitats and are willing to take action.
"Who can forget ‘the blue planet effect’ and the momentum that David Attenborough’s TV series brought to the agenda to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans - for example with national newspapers launching their own campaigns; with organisations pledging to eliminate single use plastics; and with individuals taking action to change their own behaviours.
"We need to harness this desire to change and ensure that we, in this Borough, our playing our part.
"Globally, political leaders representing 88 countries from all regions have committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. Research shows that to be successful, this will need investment of an additional $600-$800 billion each year.
"This is a significant undertaking - but one which to my mind, we simply don’t have a choice about.
"We must turn the words and desires into action and use them to build momentum.
"We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate.
"Locally, in Rugby, we are privileged to have wonderfully diverse habitats, with numerous designated sites of special scientific interest, local nature reserves and nature conservation sites. Linking into the previous theme, I recognise and thank the efforts of our many volunteers who work tirelessly to look after these sites.
"We, the Council, are determined to protect our natural environment and will take the measures to do so, where we are able to. We have recently adopted a new tree policy and pollinator friendly policy, recognising the vital role that both trees and pollinators play in sustaining our natural environment.
"Similarly, we will continue to protect our open spaces through Fields in Trust deeds of dedication – ensuring that open spaces remain protected and accessible for generations to come."
With such stark warnings about both the rate and the consequences of biodiversity loss, it is pleasing to note that the COP26 conference has already seen world leaders agree a deal which aims to halt and reverse global deforestation over the next decade, with commitments including £8.75 billion of public funds to be committed to protect and restore forests, alongside £5.3 billion of private investment.
But we must not forget the important role which local action can play on this global issue.
A key local partner who protect and improve nature and biodiversity is the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, who have worked for the last 51 years, including on 65 nature reserves and with the help of some 25,000 members and volunteers.
A recent report by the Wildlife Trust explains how restoring nature can bring a range of other societal benefits, while supporting net zero ambitions. The report argues that putting nature at the heart of a sustainable, green economy, will create more jobs, ensure that land and sea are properly managed for the long-term, enable people to live happier, healthier lives, and restore our much-depleted natural world.
The report highlights that all areas of Government – locally and nationally – can benefit from working with nature, as well as helping it to recover.
Rugby Borough Council will seek to set out the roles which we can all play locally in the forthcoming Climate Change Strategy, however if you do have thoughts in the meantime, then please do get in touch.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust provide a great variety of opportunities to get involved, help local wildlife and enjoy the mental and physical wellbeing benefits of conservation volunteering. More details on these opportunities can be found on their website.
And finally, if you haven’t done so already, please do complete our residents survey.