COUNCILS must declare a ’nature emergency’ and work quickly to save our wildlife, according to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

The trust is calling on local authorities to do more to protect wildlife and nature, and believe that announcing a nature emergency is the best course of action.

This, the trust says, needs to be considered alongside the climate emergency, which has already been declared by several authorities – including Hampshire County Council.

Sienna Somers, the wildlife trusts’ policy and advocacy manager, said: "Nature’s recovery is vital for tackling climate the climate crisis.

"Thriving habitats can safely lock up vast amounts of carbon, while providing other vital benefits that help us adapt, such as flood prevention, clean water and improved health and wellbeing.

"Many councils have declared climate emergencies, but few are recognising the nature emergency and the need for nature’s recovery to tackle these twin crises together.

"Nature’s recovery has never been more important, and councils have huge power to halt the decline of nature locally."

Hampshire County Council’s executive member for climate change, Councillor Jan Warwick, said: "Protecting the natural world is a fundamental part of our commitment to tackling climate change in Hampshire. We declared a climate change emergency in 2019 and following that, our Climate Change Strategy has set out a range of policies that aim to protect, enhance and improve the environment across areas such as tree planting; biodiversity; flood and water management, transport and more.

"This year, we have committed to prepare an Environment Strategy which will provide a framework setting out the County Council’s environmental principles and priorities, and feed into a wider plan to identify opportunities for enhancing biodiversity and supporting climate change objectives.

"We have already made significant progress in taking action to tackle climate change, as our first ever Climate Change Annual report shows. We planted more than 1,300 trees last year, with the potential to absorb nearly 20,000 tonnes of carbon over the next 20 years; we launched a Parish Pollinator Pledge to improve habitats for vital pollinator insects; and we’re working closely with partners including district and parish councils, and the Forestry Commission on a range of initiatives including carbon storage mapping.

"We are currently implementing a further £1.2million investment to tackle climate change, which include projects such as tree planting, rewilding and creating a propagation unit at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens to nurture plants at risk from rising temperatures.

"We are committed to ensuring we do all we can to protect and enhance Hampshire’s natural environment, not only to help tackle climate change, but also to ensure the long-term sustainability of the county."