Wiltshire Wildlife Trust urges public to consider the environment when voting

By Amanda Wilkins - 24 May 2024


In its Manifesto for Nature published this week, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has outlined five priorities that urgently need the support of candidates standing in the upcoming General Election.

The Trust is asking members of the public to consider the parties’ and the candidates’ stances on these key issues when thinking about casting their vote in the General Election on 4th July.

1) Bring back Wiltshire’s wildlife: One in six species is at risk of extinction in the UK. Wiltshire is no exception. Research has revealed 132 species that urgently need help in Wiltshire, including lapwings and water voles. To help protect these threatened species, there needs to be increased funding to protect red-listed species and tackle invasive non-native species. To reverse nature’s decline, 30% of land should be actively managed for nature by 2030, which is double the level in Wiltshire at present.

2) Fund wildlife-friendly farming: Wiltshire is a farming county; 80% of our land is farmed. Nature-friendly farmers hold the key to restoring nature’s abundance and they need support, especially from government. Many farmers and land managers have gone to great lengths to support wildlife but without being adequately rewarded.

3) Protect Wiltshire’s chalk streams: Our globally important chalk streams – lifelines for species such as otters and brown trout - are particularly vulnerable to pollution, especially when it gets concentrated when water levels are low in summer. New protection needs to be introduced for all chalk streams from the threats of over-abstraction and pollution, and there needs to be investment in nature-based solutions, such as wetland restoration alongside soil-friendly regenerative farming.

4) Enable healthy, thriving communities in Wiltshire & Swindon: We are living through a mental health crisis. The NHS is not resourced to meet the burgeoning demand for mental health care. Nature experiences are proven to improve health and wellbeing, so it is important to increase funding for the provision of local wellbeing services, such as ecotherapy and green prescribing.

5) Tackle the climate emergency: Climate change is affecting all wildlife and people. 2023 was the hottest year on record. Nature, livelihoods, food and water sources are all at risk from flooding, drought and extremes of climate right here in Wiltshire. There not only needs to be increased government support for homeowners and businesses to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions, but there also needs to be investment in nature-based solutions to adapt to and mitigate climate change, such as reconnecting rivers with floodplains to reduce the risk of flooding.

Joanna Lewis, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Young people here in Wiltshire and Swindon tell us that they are worried about the climate and nature crisis. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is calling for our next elected MPs to respond by pledging their support on five key priorities.

"We can all be proud of Wiltshire’s precious chalk streams and stunning wildflower meadows, but much-loved species like water voles, lapwing and dormice are being lost at an alarming rate. Wiltshire is a farming county and nature-friendly farmers hold the key to reversing nature’s decline – our next elected MPs must ensure they have the reward they deserve.

"Nature-based solutions not only help prevent spiralling costs from flooding, river pollution and climate change, they will also help enhance our beautiful county and the wellbeing of all who call it home.”

In preparing for its manifesto, the Trust surveyed the views of young people who will be most impacted by the decisions taken that affect the environment and nature over the next few years, yet are too young to vote. The survey responses and ideas received clearly showed how much young people care, think and worry about nature and the environment.

Edward, age 10

Robyn, age 11

To read the Trust’s full Manifesto for Nature, visit: www.wiltshirewildlife.org/manifesto



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