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Boosting nature in Bristol

Boosting nature in Bristol

Council action plan sets out steps to help city wildlife flourish.

1 September 2021

Bristol City Council’s commitment to the city’s goal of reversing the decline in wildlife and managing and creating space for nature, has been outlined in the council’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan launched today (Wednesday 1 September) by the Mayor at Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve.

At the Brislington site where a project to restore grassland and increase wildflower planting is continuing, Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, and Councillor Nicola Beech, the Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, unveiled the council’s four-year plan which will ensure nature is embedded into all council decisions, as part of the next phase of work following the city’s declaration of an ecological emergency last year.

That announcement, by the Mayor in February 2020, led to the development of Bristol’s One City Ecological Emergency Strategy which laid out specific objectives for the natural environment, including the vision that 30 per cent of Bristol’s land will be managed for nature.

Continuing to reduce the use of pesticides in Bristol, aiming for a 50 per cent reduction by 2030, ensuring all of Bristol’s waterways are of the quality to support healthy wildlife and reducing the use of products the affect the health of wildlife and eco systems are also among the Ecological Emergency goals.

The plan will see the council work with communities, organisations and businesses and support citizens and city partners to meet those strategy goals.

Supported by the authority, One City Ecological Emergency Strategy partners are mapping and identifying opportunities to improve Bristol’s ecological network and establish the Bristol Wildlife Index – a list of species that can be monitored to know if the actions we take are making a difference.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “Here in Bristol we are fortunate to have many green open spaces and wildlife areas that we enjoy and make us healthier and happier, and many of our citizens already help to encourage nature in their gardens or by volunteering in their
communities.

“However, globally and locally, we are seeing nature collapse rapidly. For example, since 1970, globally we’ve lost 60 per cent of wild invertebrates and up to 76 per cent of insects, while in Bristol songbird populations, like swifts and starlings, have dropped by more than 96 per cent.

“Bristol was the first city in the UK to declare an Ecological Emergency in 2020 in response to the drastic decline in wildlife and developing the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy was our signal that we intend to meet this challenge, setting out the ambitious steps we as a city we need to take and how we intend to do it.’’

Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, said:

“Bristol City Council is committed to addressing the ecological emergency and there is a wide range of work going on within the authority, with partners and with residents, to help meet our One City Ecological Emergency Strategy goals by 2030.

“The council’s action plan outlines the action being taken in the four years up to 2025 and how we will also be supporting other partner-led city-wide actions to meet the goals. Some actions can be taken quickly, others will take years, but we can all do something, be it creating space for nature, reducing pollution in our everyday activities and reducing our environmental footprint in what we buy.

“In partnership with our communities, city organisations and businesses we want to inspire them to deliver their own action plans to help us create a healthy city which is rich in wildlife. As the individual activities in this plan are developed and delivered we will engage with communities, parks groups, developers and a wide range of organisations to deliver the most effective action.’’

Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust, said:

“We warmly welcome the publication of the council’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan.

“It’s great to be working with a council who are seriously looking at what they can do to tackle the ecological emergency. There is a lot of work still to do if we are going to reverse wildlife declines. In planning, local plans need reviewing in the light of current conservation priorities, and the reduction of pesticide use is a key priority.

“We look forward to supporting the council in creating these vital changes, and in helping ensure that these promises become a reality.”

Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of The Natural History Consortium, who is leading on implementation of the One City Ecological Emergency Plan, said:

“The One City Ecological Emergency Strategy was written by organisations and volunteers from right across the city. It’s brilliant that Bristol City Council has been the first to step up with a comprehensive action plan and we hope that many more organisations will soon follow.”

Read the council’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan.

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