World Habitat Day

Ian Barrett stands, smiling, in a black fleece with Avon Wildlife Trust's badger logo, with green hills and trees behind him. Ian writes for World Habitat Day.
Today’s guest blog is from Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust (photo credit: Jon Craig)

The United Nations recognises the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day, which is intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

We live in challenging times, but there is reason for hope and things that we can all do to help to restore the health of our planet for people and wildlife.

An Ecological Emergency

Next month, countries from around the world will meet in Glasgow to talk about how we tackle the challenge of climate change. Next year they will be meeting in China to look at how we tackle the challenge of declining wildlife and the ecosystems that support life on Earth.

The figures are stark. We’ve lost 68% of the world’s wild vertebrates since the 1970s. Nationally, we’ve seen massive and accelerating declines in previously common species such as songbirds and hedgehogs. In Bristol we’ve lost 96% of our swifts and swallows since the 1990s. This matters not only for wildlife, but also for all of the things nature does for us, ultimately including clean air, clean water, and the pollination of food.

Reasons for Hope

It’s easy to get down about the state of the world’s natural environment. “Eco-anxiety” is a growing issue for people of all ages. But there are signs of hope. We have wild beavers back in the river Avon for the first time in over 400 years. Lapwing are raising chicks in the Gordano valley after a 20 year absence. We know that where we restore damaged habitats and give nature a helping hand, wildlife can recover and thrive. 

Bristol has led the way in facing up to today’s environmental challenges. We were the first major UK city to declare a climate emergency in November 2018 and the first to declare an ecological emergency in February 2020.

What You Can Do

Our ecological emergency strategy sets out the actions we need to take as a city and as individuals to restore nature and bring wildlife back. This includes managing more land for nature, reducing pesticide use, cleaning up our rivers and reducing the impact of the things we buy on wildlife and habitats around the world. Our ambition is to see 30% of land managed for the benefit of wildlife by 2030, including wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and business parks and more nature-friendly farming.  

We want to create and support a movement for change, with people and communities coming together to take action for wildlife. Every little action can help, from planting bee-friendly plants in window boxes to rewilding local green spaces, creating a pond or bug hotel, choosing to buy food from local, organic producers. You can find 30 things you can do to help wildlife on the Avon Wildlife Trust website. Join us today in helping to secure the future of our planet for people and wildlife.

Avon Wildlife Trust's banner, showing a wild beaver in the river Avon, with the following text: 

"30% of land and sea by 2030: help aid nature's recovery - donate today."

Ian writes today for World Habitat Day.