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 STOKE-ON-TRENT, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS, SOUTH CHESHIRE

Devastating declines must put nature at the top of the political agenda


Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is calling is calling on politicians of all parties to commit to an ambitious programme of policies to support nature’s recovery after damning report reveals true extent of nature loss.

Today, Thursday 28 September, leading wildlife organisations, including The Wildlife Trusts, publish a landmark State of Nature 2023 report. It shows that nature is continuing to decline at an alarming rate across the UK, which is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

The State of Nature 2023 report shows:

• One in six species is now at risk of being lost from Great Britain

• The wildlife studied has, on average, declined by 19 per cent since monitoring began in 1970

• Most important habitats are in poor condition, though restoration projects haveclear benefits for nature, people and adapting to climate change

The findings within the State of Nature 2023 reflect the environmental picture in Staffordshire, where just one third of our best habitats, called Sites of Special ScientificInterest, are classed as being in a ‘favourable’ condition – a state suitable for wildlife to thrive. The majority of watercourses in the county are also in an appalling condition - burdened with high levels of pollution and regular sewage discharges - with just one out of 41 watercourses in the Trent Valley catchment rated as being in good ecological health. The county’s wild species are struggling too, with water vole populations having disappeared from almost all watercourses in Staffordshire.

People’s concern about nature loss and climate change is a significant voting issue, with 59 per cent of adults polled by the Office for National Statistics* rating it as an important issue facing the UK today. In the last month, the Government has announced a series of anti-environmental policy changes, including watering down its commitments to Net Zero by 2050 and attempting to scrap Nutrient Neutrality rules which protect our most protected rivers from pollution.

In the wake of the State of Nature report and as the party conference season begins, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is calling on politicians of all parties to commit to an ambitious programme of environmental policies to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world.

Head of Nature Recovery Networks at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, David Cadman, said: “Staffordshire’s wonderful places and wildlife are under threat from pollution, habitat loss and our changing climate. Over the last few decades, we’ve seen populations of cherished species such as water voles, hedgehogs, curlew and lapwing plummet across Staffordshire. And just a few weeks ago, the Trust discovered severe habitat destruction on a stretch of the River Swarbourn in Yoxall, which is now being investigated by the Environment Agency.

“To halt and reverse the collapse of our natural world, we need the Government to put nature into recovery by protecting and restoring at least 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030.”

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust believe this can be achieved by:

• increasing the budget for wildlife-friendly farming, ensuring farmers are adequately rewarded for restoring nature and tackling climate change on their land.

• clamping down on pollution and sewage in our rivers by ensuring our enforcement agencies are sufficiently funded so they can monitor and inspect polluters and enforce penalties upon those who break the law.

• preventing further loss of habitat by implementing strong policies to ensure new development meets the highest sustainable standards and both protects and enhances nature.

• increasing our resilience to the impacts of climate change by re-introducing lost species such as beavers, to restore our wetland environment and help to reduce flooding which threatens people’s homes.

• making sure nature is accessible for everyone by prioritising funding to create more nature-rich greenspaces in neighbourhoods - which has been shown to improve physical and mental health.

Dave added: “The natural world is important to so many of us and we must use our voices to help nature now. We’re running out of time and we tell our elected representatives that strong action for nature and climate needs to be a priority at the next election.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “The State of Nature report is a stark reminder that politicians must not let nature drop down the agenda – there is far too much at stake. We desperately need better policies that fund nature-friendly farming properly, end the poisoning of lakes and rivers, and create larger wild and more natural areas – including in towns and cities.

“This next parliament is the most important in my lifetime for nature and climate action. The clock is ticking towards the 2030 deadline by which point the UK Government has committed to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature and to halve the risks posed by pesticides. Nature recovery is fundamental to tackling climate change and improving people’s lives – history will not be kind to politicians that ignore this truth.”

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is urging people to contact their MP and tell them howimportant the natural world is to them. For inspiration, visit: https://www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/defend-nature

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