Although dubbed the ‘Brexit election’, 86% of the people in Wales are concerned about the environment crisis we are facing, with 64% saying their concern has grown over the last ten years. New data from WWF ahead of the upcoming election has highlighted the need for commitment from all parties for urgent action on the nature and climate emergency.
It’s a shocking fact that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. 73 species have already been lost from Wales, with birds such as turtle doves and corn buntings now gone from Wales’ skies. A further 666 species are threatened with extinction in Wales. Since the 1970s the UK has seen an alarming 41% decline in its native species. Globally, a million animal and plant species are now at risk of disappearing from our planet all together.
This new polling underlines this, with 53% of respondents saying they saw more wildlife in their childhood compared with now. With this decline in wildlife comes a decline in knowledge. A surprising 29% of those polled claimed they couldn’t identify that classic British bird, the Robin – despite the bird’s heavy association with Christmas.
One UK favourite that has suffered catastrophic declines in recent years is the hedgehog – and 22% of Welsh people questioned stated they had never seen one. Maybe not unsurprising, as hedgehog numbers have plummeted by half in the UK since 2000, a result of habitat loss, pesticide use and intensive farming.
But nature is not just ‘nice to have’, it’s our life support system and vital to society and the economy. Figures released this week by WWF show that failure to act on the nature and climate emergency in the UK could cost us a staggering £12 billion pounds in coastal damages alone.
Anne Meikle, Director of WWF Cymru said:
“Our forests are burning, our icecaps are melting and our wildlife is being wiped out around the world. Our new data, although alarming, is not surprising and it underlines the need for commitment from our leaders for urgent action on the climate and nature crisis.
While the people of Wales may be divided on Brexit, we know they’re united by a love of nature and concern about our warming planet. Whoever ends up as our next UK Prime Minister needs to show bold leadership to drive the global ambition needed to fight for our world. We need real investment and policies which end the UK’s contribution to climate change, remove deforestation from our food supply chains and put nature on the path to recovery at home and abroad.”
WWF is urging all political parties to respond to the nature and climate crisis, by committing to and investment to make the UK the first major economy to:
- Drive global ambition to respond to the planetary emergency Halt our contribution to climate change
- Put nature on a path to recovery
- Stop deforestation in our food supply chains
- Pioneer an economic and financial system that works for people and planet