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How you can help save wildlife in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

PUBLISHED: 16:06 20 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:20 25 March 2015

By protecting wildlife habitats, we can ensure our local species have a home for the future: Photo by Andrew Whitmarsh

By protecting wildlife habitats, we can ensure our local species have a home for the future: Photo by Andrew Whitmarsh

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With the decline of wildlife species across the UK happening at an alarming rate, Kizzie Henderson from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust tells how we can all act now to save our natural world

If you and your family enjoy the outdoors, sign the petition now to act for nature. Photo by Tom MarshallIf you and your family enjoy the outdoors, sign the petition now to act for nature. Photo by Tom Marshall

The Wildlife Trust has published a briefing to the government called Natural Fixes, which focuses on two key areas to ensure nature’s recovery. We need support for a nature and wellbeing act and for the full designation of marine conservation zones, and we believe that we can start to see this recovery become a reality over the next 20 years.

The loss of wildlife is continuing at an alarming pace. 60% of our key species are in decline as is our health and wellbeing. Our proposals would put nature at the heart of how decisions are made, and by restoring our degraded natural systems, will help rebuild our economy, tackle a wide range of health problems, reduce the severity of droughts, improve our food security, absorb carbon dioxide emissions and make the UK a better and more inspiring place to live. It is time to act for nature’s recovery.

Debbie Tann, Chief Executive of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust added: “At a time when our need for nature has never been greater, it is under more pressure than ever before. We’ve already lost a staggering 97% of our wildflower meadows and 60% of all wildlife species are still in decline. Hampshire’s population continues to grow – it is predicted to rise by at least 100,000 people in the next ten years, mostly in the older age groups. Health professionals are now starting to recognise the contribution that nature can make to wellbeing – but there simply isn’t enough nature, in good condition, to support the health needs of our growing society. If we want the health and wellbeing benefits that nature provides, we must act to restore its health too.”

Our most deprived communities are 10 times less likely to live in the greenest areas; fewer than one in 10 children regularly play in wild places compared to half a generation ago, but if every household in England had good access to quality green space, it could save an estimated £2.1bn on health care costs. To address this, the Nature and Wellbeing Act would call for local and national ‘ecological networks’ to be mapped out and created, to reconnect wildlife and habitats in real living landscapes.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is already demonstrating the effect that nature can have on our wellbeing. At Winnall Moors in Winchester, the Trust has been working with local people and anglers to restore habitats in and along the River Itchen. This work has seen a remarkable recovery of populations of wildlife and wild fish stocks in this urban wildlife reserve, and has restored natural flood processes that provide protection for the City. On the Isle of Wight, the Trust has been running a Woodland eco therapy project to support adults with mental health issues. Participation has been life changing for the attendees, demonstrating huge benefits of connecting with nature. The Trust also delivers Forest School programmes across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that show how children can learn more effectively and build their confidence in the outdoors.

We have joined forces with the RSPB to call for a Nature and Wellbeing Act – a new law that would put nature at the heart of how decisions are made about health, housing and other development, education, economic growth, flood resilience and social cohesion. In order for this to happen we need public support. We are asking everyone to call on their local MPs to press for the Act to be included in their party manifesto, by signing our e-action on the Wildlife Trust webpage at www.wildlifetrusts.org.uk.

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