An ecological emergency report with 25 recommendations to reverse declines in wildlife and restore nature in Glasgow has been backed by a council committee. The report was presented to the council’s Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Policy Committee after being developed by a working group involving councillors and a range of local biodiversity organisations and national environmental agencies over the last year.
Glasgow was the first Scottish City to declare an ecological emergency in May of 2019. The Council acknowledged the significance of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report 2019 which indicated biodiversity loss was increasing due to land-use change, the impact of climate change, pollution, invasive alien species and the exploitation of natural resources.
The Climate Emergency is intensified by the emerging global biodiversity crisis. There is recognition of the urgent requirement for nature-based solutions, as well as the distinct challenges around biodiversity loss that need to be addressed. This declaration was a response to local and national findings that nature is declining at an alarming rate.
The State of Nature Scotland 2019 report highlighted a 24% reduction in average species abundance since 1994 and a 14% reduction in average species distribution since 1970.
Councillor Martha Wardrop, chair of the Ecological Emergency Working Group, said: “We are proud Glasgow was the first Scottish City to declare an Ecological Emergency, and this report aims to substantially increase the scale and speed of action to address nature’s decline.
“Investing in nature is vital for both wildlife and our health and well-being, but it is also great value for money and essential for maintaining the ecosystems on which we all depend. We are experiencing a challenging time in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlights the increasing importance of working together to restore a healthy natural environment that wildlife, and everyone in Glasgow, can enjoy.
“Achieving the scale of change needed has to be a city-wide effort, and there are many ways to enhance biodiversity bringing together organisations, businesses, communities and individuals with a range of skills and expertise in nature-based solutions. We must build on the efforts of local environmental volunteering groups and existing nature conservation projects to provide more opportunities for people of all ages to encourage wildlife to flourish.
“The Council is called upon to take immediate action to enable parks and greenspaces, cemeteries, former landfill sites, as well as vacant and derelict land to be further enhanced for biodiversity, providing increased space for nature, across Glasgow.”
Work on how the Ecological Emergency Working Group recommendations could be implemented will now get underway, but it is anticipated this work will set alongside the council’s on-going effort in relation to climate change.
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: “This is a comprehensive report on the future of Glasgow’s biodiversity and one that I welcome.
“The recommendations in the report from the working group are challenging, but these are challenges that must be met if we are to nurture the habitats that support our city’s flora and fauna.
“As the report indicates, the ecological crisis goes hand-in-hand with the climate emergency and both present a fundamental threat to our way of life.
“We are already consulting on a plan that sets-out how we are responding to climate emergency and many actions in that plan refer to the city’s ecology.
“The report from the Ecological Emergency Working Group will bring added focus to those actions but also help to ensure we tackle the broad range of issues affecting natural Glasgow.
“I fully anticipate our action on climate and ecology will be incorporated into one single plan that will drive us towards our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and preserve Glasgow’s biodiversity.”