Our life support is failing
We have 10 years to limit temperature increases to 2°C. Britain is already experiencing climate breakdown.
18 of the hottest summers since 1850 have been since 2000, emissions rose by 2.7% last in 2019, and the escalating costs of floods and droughts were £5 billion for the 2015 storms alone.
Around 5.4 million properties in England are at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea, surface water or both. Annual flood damage costs for the whole of the UK are estimated to be in the region of £1.1 billion.
With droughts on the rise we stare down the barrel of just 40-60 more harvests, while wasting 40% of our food and watching our soil wash out to sea.
We face ecology poverty
Britain is the 29th most nature-depleted country out of 218 in the world and our natural systems are on the brink of collapse.
We are economically rich yet ecologically poor.
If all 7.6 billion people lived like people in Britain, then 4 planet Earths would be needed to sustain us.
We continue to promote economic growth and then ‘off-shore’ our guilt. We save Sumatran tigers while British wildcats quietly become extinct.
The 2019 State of Nature Report tells a stark tale:
Time is running out. Britain has lost almost half its birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and plants since the 1970s – including essential pollinators.
86% of our rivers are polluted and unsafe to swim and many of our chalk streams have dried up. What will we do when water shortages coincide with northern hemisphere crop failure?
Knepp Estate in the past as farmland – tidy but empty of wildlife
Knepp Estate today – wilder, with a huge variety of habitats and bursting with life
And yet there is hope
Technology has a role to play but affordable nature based solutions to climate breakdown and ecological collapse are needed urgently. There are some great examples of natural flood management, rescuing rare butterflies or birds or planting native forests. But we have failed to tackle our national ecological catastrophe. The good news is that trial reintroductions and nature restoration projects are ready to be scaled across the country.
Turtle doves, purple emperors, peregrines and nightingales have appeared at Knepp Estate in Sussex over the past 15 years of ‘wilding’.
The dams on our Cornwall Beaver Project at Woodland Valley Farm have reduced flood peak flow rates by over 30%.
Space for Nature’s Bee Roadzz improve Wiltshire insect corridors and Back from the Brink is saving 20 native species.
It’s time to join the dots and build a nationwide network of spaces for wildlife. To achieve this, we must work together – conservation groups, landowners, farmers, policymakers, gardeners – and beavers can play a part too, rewetting and reconfiguring our straightened waterways.