Nature is in crisis: My Mayoral Combined Authority is taking action

Wildlife and wild places are incredible wonders. They bring joy to so many of us.

For me personally, nothing beats the thrill of watching a bee flit about from flower to flower, and shrub to shrub. And whose heart doesn’t sing at the sight of a bird flying ahead, and all the other fauna and flora that all form part of the miraculous complexity of our precious planet?

But the truth is this nation of nature lovers is one of the worst places for nature in the whole world. In fact, we come in a lowly 228th out of 240 nations and regions!

And it’s getting worse. Just look at last week’s State of Nature report compiled by 60-plus environmental groups and charities. The big headline? One in six Great British species are under threat of being killed off entirely, including wildlife icons like the turtle dove and hazel dormouse.

That, frankly, should shame any government, of any colour, into action.

But while ministers have some warm words for our planet, the reality is that they’re making an already desperate situation much, much worse.

Think their giving the green light for water companies to dump filthy raw sewage in NE Somerset waterways. Or the PM rowing back on Net Zero - just to score political points.

But thankfully, under my leadership, my Mayoral Authority is getting on with the serious business of fighting the ecological crisis head on - in the absence of leadership from Whitehall.

It’s why my region-wide Environment Plan has set a really ambitious target to not just halt the decline of wildlife, as ministers propose, but to actually increase it – by 30%.

That requires many things, not least changing the way we do farming in this country. It’s why I’m investing in projects like Pollinate Avon led by the brilliant Middle Ground Growers in Bath to help more West farms become wildlife friendly which we know is so vital.

It means planting even more trees like our new Great Avon Wood near Pensford, the biggest new woodland in our region ever funded by my Mayoral Authority.

And it means going full steam ahead on things like my £1 million Pollinator Fund which is transforming  220,000 sqm of land across the West to serve our vital pollinator friends, and is really helping deliver on my pledge to make our region the bee capital of the whole country.

And I’m investing millions more through my £60 million Green Recovery Fund, and through other green programmes I’ve launched in the last two years, in protecting our natural environment.

But I’ll be honest - we need action from government. Concerted, meaningful, action, including taking a lead on this nature crisis internationally. That, I’m afraid, can only come from a general election.

But in the meantime, with my bold plans for nature, I know we can protect our brilliant part of the world - before it is too late.