A 'NATURE emergency' has been declared across Winchester as the city council vows to better protect its green spaces, wildlife and environment. 

The city council passed the motion at its full council meeting on Wednesday, September 20.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Winchester City Council cabinet member for climate emergency, presented it. 

Cllr Learney said: “We are in the middle of a nature crisis. Almost half of all UK wildlife is in long-term decline and 15 per cent of species are at risk of extinction.

"The climate emergency is only hastening this destruction of the natural environment, damaging habitats and disrupting ecosystems.

"Yet it is these very habitats that have the potential to lock up carbon and fight back against rising global temperatures. It is essential that we not only protect these spaces, but let them thrive – for the benefit of people, planet and nature. 

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“As we recover from the Covid-19 crisis, the need for nature-rich green spaces where we live and work is clearer than ever and will help health, education and the economy build back stronger. Action must be taken now to put nature into recovery at a local level, in support of regional, national and international work to do the same.”

Its seconder, Green Party member Cllr Danny Lee, said: “Time is of the essence to protect and restore our nature. If our natural ecosystems collapse, we pose an existential risk to ourselves. Wildlife populations are declining rapidly as stated in a report from WWF. 

“The report says the catastrophic decline shows no sign of slowing. We can play our part to slow the decline. I fully support this motion.”

The motion has nine resolutions:

  • Declare that we are experiencing a nature emergency.
  • Consider the impact on nature’s recovery in all strategic plans, policy areas and decision-making processes.
  • Make nature-based solutions part of our plans to tackle the climate emergency, taking forward, where appropriate and cost-effective, the identified nature intervention opportunities from the Carbon Neutrality Action Plan Roadmap.
  • Review the council’s biodiversity action plan for opportunities for further enhancement, and report on the progress made.
  • Encourage and support, when we can, local wildlife agencies to recover our nature and natural environments including areas for habitat restoration widely across the district.
  • Support Hampshire County Council in the creation and implementation of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
  • Play our part in improving the quality of our local rivers and streams and campaign for faster Government and water company action to reduce sewage and nutrient pollution in our watercourses.
  • Improve doorstep access to nature, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Work with local communities, organisations and businesses to help them make decisions and take action which support nature’s recovery.

The motion was passed unanimously.