October 2020: News from the Mayor
10-year plan for wildlife
The end of summer, and the changes we see in the nature around us, remind us of how much we enjoy the outdoors. This is especially true in a year where many of us have been indoors much more than we would have wanted. It has shown the importance of gardens, allotments, green spaces and parks and the wildlife we share them with.
Bristol has 33 conservation areas and over 3,800 allotment plots. We have a wildlife network of 3,000 hectares, protecting a quarter of all the land area in the city. As the home of the BBC Natural History Unit, Bristol is even a leading global centre for wildlife expertise.
But reports have painted a picture of global wildlife under threat. There has been a 60% decline in wild vertebrates worldwide since 1970. 44 million nesting birds, 30 million hedgehogs and 2.8 million brown hare have been lost from the UK since the middle of last century.
In Bristol, the city’s swift and starling populations are much-reduced from what they were, with a 96% reduction birds between 1994 and 2014. Species extinctions are high and accelerating, with 41% of insects worldwide and 15% of UK species at risk.
Because of Bristol’s environmental awareness many organisations across the city have made their own conservation projects to protect and restore wildlife in our city. But we recognise that more can, and should, be done. This is why last year we declared an ecological emergency which recognises the scale of wildlife decline and the serious breakdown of the natural environment which we now face. Building on the climate emergency declaration before it, it has helped us to bring together city partners to confront the ecological decline we’re facing, building a blueprint for how we can all support nature’s recovery.
We are now launching Bristol’s 10-year plan to protect our wildlife, ecosystems and habitats together. This plan recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy. From clean water and air, food, timber, climate change, flood protection, these clear statements of intent aim to protect our wildlife and environment, and deliver the wider benefits of a green, nature rich city into the everyday lives of the people of Bristol.
Our focus will be how we can protect and support the natural spaces that support us, stop using pesticides that damage nature and stop pollution that damages important ecosystems.
The good news is that there is still time to build back a world that is better for wildlife and for people. This is about how we build and develop the city responsibly so that humans don’t threaten wildlife and instead support them to grow alongside us. We can’t solve this issue overnight but if we make sure we consider ecology and biodiversity when we build each new development, and take major city decisions, then we can start to make significant progress. This plan will help us kick-start the action we need to rapidly accelerate for the sake of natural life in Bristol.