Changing the way we think about nature
We cannot tackle the climate crisis without similar ambition to meet the nature crisis head on – the two are inseparable. The climate crisis is driving nature’s decline while the loss of wildlife and habitats leaves us ill-equipped to reduce our emissions and adapt to change.The Wildlife Trusts
Our nature reserves and green spaces provide vital homes for wildlife, but they're so much more than that. They're the life support function for our lives, our communities and our local businesses. Natural habitats in good health reduce the risk of flooding, help prevent coastal erosion, improve people’s health and ensure thriving ecosystems which provide the pollinators, soils, food and water which sustain us.
Restoring nature at scale also happens to be one of our best hopes for storing carbon to mitigate against the effects of the global climate crisis.
Our Somerset grassland nature reserves for example cover 252 hectares, capable of storing 554 tonnes of carbon per year. Peatland reserves, such as Westhay Moor are currently already storing a huge amount of carbon, so it is vital that we keep them wet and healthy allowing them to continue providing this carbon sink, And given 75% of Somerset is farmed, there is a huge opportunity to ensure that hedgerows and field margins are also making an even greater contribution.
We have worked with many partners to develop a blueprint for a nature based recovery (a Nature Recovery Network) and embed 'Green Recovery' in the county's decision making processes - but there is much more we need to do. Watch this space for updates on our approach and solutions for Somerset.
Drawing on the latest research, the Wildlife Trust's report ‘Let nature help – how nature’s recovery is essential for tackling the climate crisis’ shows how a variety of natural landscapes in the UK can store carbon and could absorb a third of UK emissions if these degraded habitats were to be expertly restored. It makes the case for addressing the climate and nature emergencies together, head on.
The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government, industry and local authorities to step-up investment in nature’s recovery and climate change mitigation by:
- Restoring a wide range of land habitats such as grasslands, peatlands and wetlands to store carbon. Government have missed targets to plant trees and help peatlands recover and now must identify, map and protect a wide array of ecosystems and restore them locally as part of a national Nature Recovery Network.
- Restoring nature at sea by introducing effective management for our network of Marine Protected Areas and by designating a suite of Highly Protected Marine Areas. These measures would bring our oceans back to health and enable them to function properly and absorb more human-made CO2 emissions.
Nature’s fantastic ability to trap carbon safely and provide other important benefits is proven so efforts to cut our emissions must be matched with determined action to fix broken ecosystems so they can help stabilise our climate.
CEO, The Wildlife Trusts