In May 2019, South Somerset District Council formally recognised a climate and ecological emergency in response to a "desperate" threat to nature and the environment. The motion recognised that societies and economies are intimately linked with and depend on biodiversity and nature, and that steps need to be taken to protect and enhance our natural habitats.
SSDC will now seek to address ecological issues alongside climate emergency actions, maximising opportunities from combining both the climate and ecological emergencies together.
Our intention is to manage Council services, buildings and land in a biodiversity-friendly manner; embed ecological initiatives alongside climate action in all work areas; and ensure that addressing both emergencies are strategic priorities for planning policies and design guides for new development.
All Local Authorities have a “biodiversity duty” under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, A Green Future (2018), pledges that this will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future.
You can read our Environment Strategy here.
So what is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words "biological" and "diversity". It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities they form and the habitats in which they live. Every one of them plays a crucial part to form the eco system which supports all life. While we dominate this planet, we still need to preserve the diversity in wildlife in order to survive.
Small changes in the way we live can make a huge difference to redressing the balance of every single element that makes our world tick. For example meat consumption is one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of forests and biodiversity, so small changes like having meat free days can help, whilst planting trees and leaving space in your gardens to grow wild can provide habitat and food for our wildlife.
Everyone in Somerset can help conserve wildlife!
Here are six easy and fun ways to boost biodiversity in your area:
Make your garden more attractive to wildlife by planting wildflowers and by using organic methods;
Find out about the activities of the conservation groups in your area. Someone you know may already be a member, making it a fun way to get involved in managing natural habitats, tree planting, restoring ponds and more;
Discover more about biodiversity in Somerset by attending walks, talks, or events organised by local conservation organisations or voluntary groups;
Take part in local and nationwide surveys of key biodiversity habitats and species such as hedgerows, orchards, bats, otters and waxcap fungi to help inform conservation work;
Organise litter pics in and around your community - certain items of rubbish are lethal for local wildlife;
Explore one of the many and varied Local Nature Reserves, and record the wildlife you see with the Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC)