Curlews help provide carbon capture and protect mudflats from erosion and flooding
The UK has vital species that can restore nature and ‘help save the world’, from oak trees to lob worms
Conservation groups unite to highlight the role Britain’s plants and animals can play in restoring nature, ahead of crucial COP15 global biodiversity summit
From seagrass to Atlantic salmon, oak trees to lob worms, the UK boasts vital species of plants and animals that can play a critical role in restoring nature, according to leading wildlife charities.
British keystone species support a natural network around Britain and beyond and play an “unseen, underestimated and undervalued role” in protecting climate, water, air and soils, the groups said.
Atlantic salmon, for example, are “swimming carbon-stores”, while lob worms – a type of common earthworm we see in our gardens – bury deep into the soil, improving drainage and boosting plant growth in the process.
The UK must lead the way in protecting these species, restoring natural habitats, and encouraging countries around the world to take similar action, the charities said today in a report.
“From earthworms improving our soils, to moths pollinating our crops, nature plays a pivotal role in protecting our climate, economy and prosperity,” said Dr Richard Benwell, chief executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link. “These 10 species give a glimpse of the benefits we would enjoy if wildlife were restored.”
Later this year, countries will gather in China for crucial biodiversity talks known as COP15, with the aim of setting new global goals to halt and reverse the worldwide decline in biodiversity.
The UK must play a leading role in ensuring the summit’s success, 13 nature charities said today. They include the Woodland Trust, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and Buglife.
Having already hosted the COP26 climate summit in November, it makes sense for the UK to also assume a leading role at the COP15 biodiversity talks, argued Dr Benwell.
“The presidency of COP26 climate talks gives the Government a great opportunity to be a world leader at the equally essential COP15 nature talks,” he said.
He called on Boris Johnson to prepare for the summit by ramping up nature restoration efforts at home in the coming months. Focus should be on protecting the key species outlined in the report, such as sphagnum moss, known as a “super sponge” for its role in flood prevention.
“The UK is the first country in the world with a legal deadline to end the decline of wildlife.” he said. “If the Government can back this up with a plan to strengthen and complete protection for wildlife sites and species in advance of the talks, the Prime Minister could be brilliantly placed to help secure a global agreement to restore nature and climate.”
Mr Johnson should also attend the talks in person, the wildlife charities said.
COP15 has been repeatedly postponed because of the pandemic, and there are fears the summit – due to start in May – will be pushed back again to autumn.
Environmentalists warn that it is crucial the talks take place as soon as possible, in light of scientific research warning biodiversity loss poses a threat to humanity and risks making climate change worse.
“Decisions made at this year’s global biodiversity talks will decide the future of our natural world,” said Dr James Robinson, director of conservation at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
“Nature restoration targets have been made and missed for decades. We can’t afford another lost decade for nature. We need UK ambition and domestic action to translate into a global deal at COP15 that will truly turn the tide for nature, before it is too late.”
Source: I News