A “NATURE emergency” has been declared by East Lothian Council amid a decline in biodiversity and the impact of climate change.

At a full council meeting last month, councillors unanimously voted to support a motion to declare a nature emergency.

The motion, proposed by council leader Councillor Norman Hampshire, recognises the decline of biodiversity and the impact of climate change.

The motion notes: “The body of evidence which outlines the alarming extent of the global nature and biodiversity crisis. Nature is in decline and urgent action must be taken to reverse this.

“Recognises the inherent value of nature, as well as its crucial importance as an integral part of culture and society, and for our health, wellbeing and economy; this being demonstrated through placemaking, tourism, food, energy, water and air quality regulation, etc. Additionally, recognises that the nature and climate emergencies are intrinsically linked and that nature plays a key role in meeting climate targets, particularly for climate change adaptation and resilience.”

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Colin McGinnCouncillor Colin McGinn

The motion was seconded by Councillor Colin McGinn, cabinet member for community well-being, who outlined the work the council was already undertaking to restore and enhance nature, including through the Biodiversity Action Plan, Tree and Woodland Strategy, the Open Space Strategy, the recently launched Nature Networks and developments for the East Lothian Climate Forest.

Mr Hampshire said: “Declaring a nature emergency follows, and is intrinsically linked to, our earlier declaration of a climate emergency in 2019. We remain committed to tackling the climate emergency but we are all too aware of a decline in plant and animal species and reduction of wildlife habitats.

“We are already delivering action in East Lothian to tackle the nature crisis through our existing range of strategies, partnerships and projects, working with partner agencies, community groups and volunteers.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Norman Hampshire, leader of East Lothian CouncilCouncillor Norman Hampshire, leader of East Lothian Council

“We will seek to further embed action to reverse the decline in nature as we update our range of strategies and policies across all our services, whilst being mindful of balancing this motion and commitment with the range of other duties of the council.

“During the pandemic it became evident that opportunities for people to access natural spaces resulted in so many positive effects for wellbeing. An environment that is rich in biodiversity not only enhances wildlife and nature but can also enhance our own lives, provide feelings of calm and generate creativity. We aspire to offer local residents everyday opportunities to enjoy connecting with nature close to their homes.”