The Trusts are having to deal with uncertain times the coronavirus has created. But the power of nature has never been more important.
The Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 46 charities across the UK – are, like others, dealing with unprecedented challenges caused by coronavirus. Restoring nature in the UK has become harder than ever during the pandemic. At the same time, people are seeking solace in nature to relieve the hardships caused by lockdown.
Many Trust staff are furloughed and those that remain in work have found valuable time is being lost to a proliferation of illegal activities such as shooting wildlife and fly tipping. Meanwhile, vital conservation work has had to be put on hold. This is leading to an explosion of invasive non-native species, deterioration of rare wildflower meadows. As well as stalled wildlife reintroductions and potential loss of species such as dormice from some areas.
Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The work of The Wildlife Trusts is critical. We live in one of the most nature depleted countries in the world at a time when there’s a big public conversation about the importance of nature — and access to it — in our everyday lives. It feeds our souls and nourishes us in good times and in bad. Caring for nature benefits us all in many ways.
“The Wildlife Trusts can be a vital part of our nation’s recovery from the current health crisis.
“Nature brings health benefits and offers solutions to the other great emergency facing humanity — climate change — so it must be protected and allowed to recover. I’d urge people to support their local Wildlife Trust wherever they are in the UK.”
The variety of issues the Wildlife Trust have to tackle include management of rare and historic wildflower meadows. Non-maintenance leads to deterioration and this will take time to repair, flytipping, vandalism and theft on nature reserves and illegal shooting of rare birds.
13 Trusts have reported vandalism on their sites since the lockdown —with this figure likely to rise. Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust and London Wildlife Trust also reported thefts on their sites. Lancashire, Warwickshire, Suffolk, and Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts have specifically reported increases in flytipping incidents.
Futhermore, Cornwall and Dorset Wildlife Trusts reported fires on their reserves, Durham Wildlife Trust has reported littering. A few Trusts have also reported anti-social behaviour.
Other issues include increase pollution problems which would previously be tackled through regular beach cleans, as well as delay in legislation across governments. In England, for example, to the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills.
Over 60% of the population live within a 3 mile walk of a Wildlife Trust nature reserve.
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