The Wildlife Trusts launch campaign for a wilder future for Cambridgeshire
Today (Thursday March 28), a high impact new initiative by The Wildlife Trusts is launched nationally.
This inclusive campaign addresses the fact that species in this country are being lost at an alarming rate. Some of our most recognisable species that were common only 10 years ago are becoming rarer: since the 1980s, toads have declined by nearly 70 per cent, spotting a hedgehog is no longer commonplace and 97 per cent of our wildflower meadows have gone.
Sadly, since we first met Badger, Ratty and friends in 1908, the UK has become one of the most nature-depleted nations in the world. The Wildlife Trusts have reimagined Wind in the Willows in 2019, shedding light on some of the problems our wildlife faces every day.
Conservation in the UK has traditionally been based on the management of nature reserves for specific habitats or species. These spaces have been essential in protecting wildlife, but wildlife havens alone are not enough. Fewer and smaller pockets of wild space are often surrounded by unsympathetic urban development or intensive agriculture, becoming disconnected and isolated.
The Wildlife Trust believe in a future Britain where nature is a normal part of childhood and where wildlife thrives across whole landscapes: towns and cities, farmland and natural places should be bustling with wildlife, providing equal access to nature and all the health benefits that brings for people. Nature needs putting into recovery to achieve a Wilder Future for all.
The Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire has worked to create Living Landscapes connecting nature reserves and sites together to help wildlife move freely through the landscape, without barriers. Working with other conservation organisations and landowners to help them manage wild spaces with the natural world in mind, farmers, businesses, schools, local authorities, churches and private landowners all have a joint responsibility and can help create a nature recovery network where wildlife and people can thrive.
The Wildlife Trust has always been at the forefront of conservation. Woodwalton Fen, which forms part of the Trust’s Great Fen in north Cambridgeshire, is one of the oldest nature reserves in the country. Founded and gifted to the organisation which became the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, by Charles Rothschild in the early 1900s, Rothschild was among the first to conceive of the idea of a network of ‘good spots’ for wildlife which should be protected from human development, creating the first map of suggested places to be conserved. These places now form the backbone of our national network of nature reserves.
The Trust have developed a set of proposals for building a Nature Recovery Network allowing space for nature: new laws are needed, including an Environment Act passed by the Westminster government, to ensure that this happens, where people’s rights to clean air and soil, thriving rivers and seas and access to a healthy natural environment, are protected. With the backing of new laws, it would be possible to identify and confirm the absolute no-go areas for development - places like Wildlife Trust nature reserves, Local Wildlife Sites and internationally protected areas such as Ramsar wetlands. This map could then be used to identify the best opportunities for building and creating new habitats to create the greatest benefits for wildlife and people. Developers, local authorities and the government would then be required to use this map to shape their plans, and ensure a net gain for wildlife in everything they are permitted to do.
The government have already committed to some of this - a draft Environment Bill supports the principle of ‘net gain’ – an idea which was also backed recently by Chancellor Philip Hammond. But the proposals don’t go far enough: as it stands, the watchdog responsible for enforcing these new requirements would be weaker than we currently have from the EU. If the law cannot be properly enforced, then the necessary changes will not be made. A Wilder Cambridgeshire would mean more and better habitats for wildlife, better integrated into our landscape and development. There are a wide range of initiatives which we already know work well which could become part of any development.
Helping a Wilder Future
The Wildlife Trusts are part of a group of conservation organisations called Greener UK https://greeneruk.org/ which is working with the Westminster government to achieve the strong Environment Act - we need help to persuade them that this is an issue important to all of us, and are calling on our supporters to meet with their MP to call for strong laws which help nature recover.
We also want people themselves to help build the Nature Recovery Network, by imagining what wildlife needs to survive in your neighbourhood, for people to be inspired to take action in gardens or local areas, working with friends, neighbours or even local councils to help create new homes for wildlife.
There is plenty of guidance and advice at wildlifebcn.org/wilderfuture - and from tomorrow, Thursday 28 March, see and read much more about it, and sign up to our high profile national campaign. With your help, a Wilder Future and a Wilder Cambridgeshire is possible.
Save the Date: Cambourne to be Wild on Saturday and Sunday, July 6-7
The Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire are holding a music and wildlife festival in Cambourne in early July.
The bands are booked, the beer marquee will be put up and lots of fun wild family activities will be happening.
Expect two days of music, real ales, family entertainment and plenty of fun wild activities: We Will Rock You with a tribute Queen act on Saturday night . . . !
Early bird tickets will be on sale in early April – watch this space at wildlifebcn.org/events/2019-07-06-cambourne-be-wild-festival.