Bristol has become the first major city to declare an ecological emergency in response to what it describes as escalating threats to wildlife and ecosystems.
The city council says there has been a ‘worrying decline’ in numbers and diversity of wildlife in the city, with 15% of British wildlife now at risk of extinction.
The declaration, which was jointly made by Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol and Ian Barrett, CEO of Avon and Wildlife Trust, builds on the declaration of a climate emergency in 2018.
The mayor has asked that the One City Environment and Sustainability Board work with the council and other city partners to look at ways to stop wildlife habitats from being destroyed.
He also asked them to look at ways of managing land in a sustainable way that will create wildlife-rich spaces in every part of the city and across the region.
‘Our commitment to this will extend beyond parks and green spaces,’ said Mayor Rees.
‘We need our buildings, streets and open spaces to support wildlife and create a more nature friendly city, and we need new developments to do the same.
‘This is about how we responsibly build and develop the city so humans don’t threaten wildlife and instead support them to grow alongside us.
‘We can’t solve this issue over-night but if we make sure we consider the ecology when we build each new development, and take major city decisions, then we can start to make major progress.
‘In developing this action plan we will work with our colleagues across the West of England and with Government to seek to secure the policies, funding and powers we need to restore nature nationally and locally.’
Ian Barrett, chief executive, Avon Wildlife Trust, commented: ‘The twin threats facing our natural world and our own lives – climate breakdown and ecological emergency – are now felt everywhere including in Bristol as we witness dwindling wildlife and the loss of wild spaces.
‘We can’t wait for national governments or international bodies to lead the way – we have to show that through collective action we can make Bristol a city where wildlife can thrive and the natural world can flourish.’