COP26 Lancashire Wildlife Trust calls for change

11 October 2021

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside supports today’s statements by The Wildlife Trusts regarding COP26.

As Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Craig Bennett says: “The Climate Crisis is becoming a vicious spiral of damage – one that has to be stopped right now.”

We support the calls for change and we have already been heavily involved in protecting wildlife and habitats and creating areas that are helping the environment by storing carbon.

PEAT

· Significantly increase peatland restoration and repair 100% of upland peat by 2050

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is one of the leading conservation organisations in the country when it comes to peatlands. While we are experts on lowland peat bogs, we are also involved in the Lancashire Peat Partnership, which is working to improve management of peat uplands like the West Pennine Moors & Bowland Fells. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/our-workprojectspeatland-restoration/lancashire-peat-partnership

Our work on preserving peatlands across Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside is vital for the environment. These vast areas, when managed correctly, suck in peat and then store it, helping the environment.

This is also creating habitats for rare plants and creatures that have been missing from large parts of our region for more than 150 years, like the large heath butterfly, the white-faced darter dragonfly and some exciting carnivorous plants. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/blog/jenny-bennion/how-do-you-reintroduce-extinct-butterfly

And the Lancashire Wildlife Trust is also creating a carbon farm at Winmarleigh Moss, which will offer opportunities for companies to offset their carbon and for farmers to source funding and help the environment. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/news/pioneering-winmarleigh-carbon-farm-fighting-climate-change

· Implement an immediate ban on peatland burning and end farming on deep peat

· Ban the sale and use of peat in gardening and compost products, including imports

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Peat-free campaign has helped to persuade the Government to plan a ban on peat-based gardening products in the next five years. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/news/lancashire-peat-free-campaign-launch

We believe that peat-free products are better for your garden and for the environment, while stressing that gardens are vital for insects and are part of the Nature Recovery Network across the North West and the United Kingdom. We are fully supportive of The Wildlife Trusts 30 by 30 campaign, to restore 30 per cent of the UK for nature by 2030.

Fire on our moorlands and floods in villages on their fringes have been caused by harmful management of our moors. We need to manage our moors for all wildlife and ensure they are able them to soak up and retain water to prevent fires and floodwater running off to areas below. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/news/wildife-devastated-moorland-inferno

This is not only good for carbon capture, it is good for wildlife and for our overworked firemen and volunteers who dread dry spells in spring and summer on the moors around Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

THE SEA

· Implement a ban on bottom-trawling the seabed in England

· Give all seagrass and saltmarsh habitats highly protected status

· Renew pledges to protect coastal habitats and invest more in natural sea defences

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust works with other Trusts in Living Seas North West and other conservation organisations to ensure large parts of the Irish Sea and its coast are protected so that wildlife can recover. Our 106 hectare Barnaby Sands & Burrows Marsh nature reserve stores lots of carbon and captures more at an estimated rate of 210 tonnes of Carbon/ha/year.

The Fylde Dunes also fit into natural sea defences locally. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/our-work/projects/fylde-sand-dunes

More than 250 square kilometres of the Irish Sea are protected by the Fylde Marine Conservation Zone and our estuaries are now protected, because of their muddy importance to wildlife and the environment. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/our-work/standing-wildlife/marine-conservation-zones

FARMING

· Give a boost to sustainable farming that locks carbon into the soil and helps wildlife

· Publish details on how Environmental Land Management Scheme will incentivise farmers to manage their land for nature-based solutions

We are working with farmers on ELMS to look at ways they can enhance wildlife on their land, like, for instance, planting more hedgerows. Hedgerows are vitally important to all kinds of mammals, birds and plants but they have vanished in many parts of the UK. Hares and hedgehogs are heavily dependent on hedgerows, and their populations have plummeted over the years.

After years of suspicion between conservationists and farmers, it is great to see a new breed of farmers keen to help nature and the environment. It was heartening to see the National Farmers’ Union showing an interest in the carbon farm at Winmarleigh. It is vital that we work together for our mutual benefits.

WOODLAND

· Increase the natural regeneration of woods and where this cannot be done, plant resilient native trees instead

· Ensure a mix of trees is planted in every location so as to have the best chance of survival in unpredictable conditions and in the face of increased pests and diseases

Woodlands are another excellent way to store carbon and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust has a number of woodland reserves, including some of the last remaining ancient woodland in the North West, for example Boilton Wood, next to Brockholes nature reserve in Preston.

Our planting and woodland management ensures native trees, plants and creatures can thrive in these areas and ensure natural and healthy experiences for generations to come.

PLANNING

· Make more space for nature everywhere including in towns and new developments. By 2030 we need to have protected 30% of our land and seas for nature. Create a new designation, Wildbelt, which protects places, including degraded land, that is put into recovery for nature

· Ensure that planning reforms deliver the Government’s legally binding target in the Environment Bill to halt species decline by 2030

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust supports The Wildlife Trusts designation of a Wildbelt, protecting and allowing improvements to areas, which are all part of a Nature Recovery Network. These corridors ensure there is room for wildlife to move and increase in numbers. https://www.lancswt.org.uk/news/we-need-wildbelt-allow-natures-recovery

We are not anti-development, however, we do insist that any building offers net gain for the environment. Net gain means that development must leave the natural environment in a better state than it was before the work began. Nature must benefit from development and that must be costed into plans.

We are keen to invited industry and businesses to look at how they can help nature and the environment with schemes like carbon offsetting and funding our projects.

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust also insists that any Environment Bill must contain powers to ensure that the environment and wildlife receive more protection than ever before.

Campaigns Manager Alan Wright said:

“COP26 is seen as almost the last throw of the dice in protecting an environment where most of us feel so comfortable. It is vitally important that people and governments realise that this is not just about a Climate Crisis, this also a crisis for biodiversity – our plants and creatures.

“Wildlife is facing extinctions not just around the world but in our parks, gardens and woodlands. This is not just something that is happening on TV it is happening to the insects and birds that we see every day.

“Can you imagine a future where your children and grandchildren will not see hedgehogs, some of our favourite birds and species of bee and butterfly in the wild? These creatures have suffered catastrophic declines in populations over the past century and we will lose them if things carry on as they are. We cannot do sit back and say everything will be OK.

“Our Government is talking about leading the way to turn this crisis around and that is great news, but it is up to us to ensure that they stand by their promises.

“And it is up to us to do something ourselves. If one in four of us changed our behaviour to do something for wildlife and the environment it would start to reverse the downward trend that can only spell disaster for our planet and its wildlife.

“We depend on nature and nature is depending on us. COP26 needs to be a defining moment for the planet, for our leaders and for every one of us.”

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