Wildlife friendly farming, resilient and connected vibrant habitats, enhanced natural wellbeing, all working in harmony with the county’s economic health through the better protection of Somerset’s natural capital - a tall order that brought conservation leaders together with MPs and Council leaders to debate a way forward.
4TH May, 2018 – Speaking at an event at Fyne Court today, as part of the Somerset Festival of Nature, Chief Executive of Somerset Wildlife Trust, Simon Nash led a passionate plea for the county as a whole to work together for the stronger protection of Somerset’s natural environment, launching a new vision document for the county, ‘Our Natural Advantage’. The document sets out clearly why, in light of the strain our habitats and wildlife are under and the changes on the horizon in terms of issues such as climate change, development, population growth, it is time for an urgent, more collaborative approach to the protection of the county’s natural resources. It highlights a vision for how we can, by working together, drive through the changes needed in Somerset to deliver a thriving strong countryside that benefits both people and wildlife.
The key speech, was delivered alongside other notable speakers, including David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton Deane, Nigel Hester from the National Trust, Trudi Grant Director of Public Health at SCC and Nick Bruce-White SW Regional Director of RSPB, to an audience of some of the county’s key stakeholders at Fyne Court, nr Taunton, and comes on the cusp of a number of other recent and significant environmental news and reports which have emerged since the launch of DEFRA’s 25 year plan for the environment at the beginning of the year.
Left to right: David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, Trudi Grant Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, Mya-Rose Craig, conservation advocate and speaker.
Nigel Hester from the National Trust, Nick Bruce-White SW Regional Director of RSPB, Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton Deane
These include the government’s consultation on National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Agriculture Command paper which offered the public, for the first time in history, the chance to play a part in securing a safer future for the nation’s wildlife; a report produced for Westminster by the Wildlife Trusts regarding the need for a Nature Recovery Network across the UK to reverse the fragmentation of our green spaces and wildlife; and the latest confirmation that Housing Minister, Dominic Raab will ensure that protection of Local Wildlife Sites – vital for that nature recovery network - will be reinstated in the NPPF.
“I don’t think I can feel any stronger at this moment about the importance of Somerset Wildlife Trust, and other conservation partners across the county, seizing this chance….this moment in time to make a meaningful and positive difference to the future of Somerset’s landscapes, habitats and special wildlife. The next 20 years will bring changes in the way we live our lives with the continuation of climate change, development and population growth. There can be no better moment to draw a line in the sand for Somerset in terms of a firm and long-lasting commitment to reversing the decline in our county’s wildlife, the loss of our precious habitats and the freefall of disconnection between people and our communities to the natural world, and to ensure our wildlife isn’t a victim of a lack of action now.
“It is now that we have to communicate, in no uncertain terms, the hard reality of what we stand to lose if we continue to take our natural environment for granted. What our children lose in terms of their health and wellbeing. More so than many other counties in the UK, Somerset’s natural environment and remarkable landscapes are fundamental to the county’s economic health and for the growth of its business communities – in fact they underpin 12% of the county’s economy. Yet these natural resources are under immense strain. We have to acknowledge that nothing short of a collaborative approach and united passion and most importantly, action, will bring back from the brink what we should most value about our wonderfully rich county. There is a danger that we take our natural environment for granted. We need that to change, and bringing this group of people together to bring the debate to the fore is a really significant step forwards.”
Alongside the launch of Somerset Festival of Nature - with our partners - we produced 'Our Natural Advantage', which highlights how everyone can make a difference to Somerset's wildlife and what great conservation news there is to celebrate.
About The Festival of Nature
Modelled on kindred Festivals across the UK, the Somerset Festival of Nature is a new, annual nature and outdoors event which, on 5th May at Fyne Court celebrated Somerset’s natural environment. It offered as many different kinds of ways as possible to put people of all ages back in touch with nature and wildlife and, most importantly aimed to help us all recognize and appreciate its value in our lives, and the role we must all play in securing our environment for the future.
At the festival the public had the chance to get involved in lots of brilliant nature-based activities from pond-dipping and den-building to guided walks.
With Special thanks to the help of a collaboration of organisations that are already involved in safeguarding Somerset’s natural assets for generations to come. Whilst these organisations have different core purposes, there is one thing that unites them all – a passion for helping more people explore, enjoy and look after the natural world in Somerset. (Festival partners are Somerset Wildlife Trust, National Trust, RSPB, WWT, Exmoor National Park Authority, AONBs (Mendip Hills, Blackdown Hills, Quantock Hills), Somerset Rural Life Museum and Bridgwater & Taunton College)
For more information please visit: https://www.somersetfestivalofnature.org Spread the word on Social Media using the hashtag #FoN