Report calls for greater investment in carbon-capturing landscapes
The Wildlife Trusts have published a report that shows how a variety of natural landscapes in the UK can store carbon and could absorb a third of UK emissions if these degraded habitats were to be expertly restored.
Let nature help – how nature's recovery is essential for tackling the climate crisis makes the case for addressing the climate and nature emergencies together, head on. The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government, industry and local authorities to step-up investment in nature's recovery and climate change mitigation by restoring a wide range of land habitats and by restoring nature at sea.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that restoring nature can help soak up UK emissions whilst also contributing many additional benefits. For example, better natural habitats reduce the risk of flooding, help prevent coastal erosion, improve people's health and ensure thriving ecosystems which provide the pollinators, soils, food and water which sustain us. Nature is, itself, at risk from climate change – yet its potential to store carbon means it can help us address climate catastrophe.
Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We cannot tackle the climate crisis without similar ambition to meet the nature crisis head on – the two are inseparable. The climate crisis is driving nature’s decline while the loss of wildlife and habitats leaves us ill-equipped to reduce our emissions and adapt to change. It makes no sense to continue destroying natural habitats when they could help us – nature's fantastic ability to trap carbon safely and provide other important benefits is proven.
"But nature in the UK is in a sorry state and important habitats are damaged and declining. Efforts to cut our emissions must be matched with determined action to fix our broken ecosystems so they can help stabilise our climate. Restoring nature in the UK needs to be given top priority – we’re calling on the Government, industry and local authorities to step-up investment urgently.
"The Government has pledged to reach net zero by 2050 and the majority of local authorities have set net zero targets – but we know that the UK is not on track to reduce even 80% of its emissions. It seems absurd that the government recently announced £27 billion for road building and is estimated to be spending over £100 billion on the hugely damaging HS2 rail project. They should spend this money on a green recovery instead.
"We are one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world; restoring nature would help avert the climate catastrophe, create jobs, prevent flooding, stop our water being polluted, make us all healthier and allow wildlife to become abundant once more."
The Wildlife Trusts believe that improving nature's ability to store carbon cannot be at the expense of reducing emissions in other ways – but it is part of the solution. People can consider making sustainable lifestyle choices and Government policy needs to ensure that we significantly reduce emissions in every part of our lives, from leisure and food production, to manufacturing and transport.