The National Assembly for Wales elections take place in May 2016 and the Wildlife Trusts in Wales are asking all political parties to consider nature in their manifestos.
Nature matters but we don’t hear enough politicians or business leaders saying it.
Wild and natural landscapes sustain us: they give us clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe; they store carbon and protect our houses from flooding; they can help make us happy and healthy. Nature gives us the foundation of our economy, our energy system and our food and farming – and its health is intrinsically linked to our own. From watching bees and butterflies and absorbing the colours of plantlife, to noticing the calming rustle of trees in the wind, nature gives us moments of inspiration and reflection and places we can escape to and relax in.
But despite all this, nature is fading away from our lives; 60% of the species we know about are in decline. Without targeted intervention, lapwings in Wales are now at risk of extinction. Red squirrels could similarly be lost from mainland Wales. Fewer than 10% of children regularly play in wild places.
And it’s not just wildlife that’s losing out. It’s us too. Our health and wellbeing is increasingly at risk from problems such as obesity and mental illness and the loss of wildlife and wild places is part of the problem, and those with the least are often affected the most. Nature’s health and people’s health are linked, and the path to recovery starts with a plan for putting the wildlife back in our lives.
We can no longer ignore the fact that we have lost over half of all the biodiversity on earth. Together, we can make sure that every political party takes our need for nature seriously.
The Wildlife Trusts in Wales are asking all political parties to consider our proposals. They are:
1. Nature in recovery
Set new targets to reverse the loss of wildlife and raise the nature baseline. We are calling for the restoration of our most precious nature reserves to a favourable condition by 2026 and to increase wildlife by 15% by 2050.
2. Nature at the centre of government
Welsh Government must fully integrate nature into its decision-making and a new Biodiversity Commission should be appointed to oversee this.
3. Nature, healthcare and wellbeing
By 2018, at least 1% of the public health budget should be used to make access to nature and wild places part of preventative and treatment-based healthcare.
4. Nature within walking distance
Create natural spaces no more than 10 minutes’ walk from where people live. Those with close access to green space live longer than those without.
5. Nature in schools
Amended the Education Act 2002 to make outdoor learning and caring for nature a key purpose for all schools in Wales as it can positively affect children's development.
6. Nature in neighbourhoods
Map, protect and create areas for nature via local planning and area statements. A wild place for nature and people in every neighbourhood should be a realistic ambition.
Click on the images below to read our manifesto documents in full.