Climate action needs nature. Nature needs climate action. Neither will succeed if we don’t prepare for a changing world

Climate action needs nature. Nature needs climate action. Neither will succeed if we don’t prepare for a changing world

The Wildlife Trusts’ COP26 report says it’s time to tackle the twin crises at speed

Devon Wildlife Trust says ‘Now is the time for bold action…so that nature and climate feed into everything we do’

The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the UK Presidency of the global climate conference COP26 to tackle the nature crisis alongside the climate emergency – or neither will be solved. The charity has published a COP26 edition of its nature-based solutions report, Let Nature Help. It explains how climate change is driving nature’s decline, whilst the loss of wildlife and habitats leaves us ill-equipped to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing world.

Harry Barton, chief executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, says:

“We are fast running out of time to bring climate change under control. And we can only do this if we radically scale up our efforts to tackle the threats to nature on land and at sea. This is because habitats such as woodland, wetland and salt marsh play such a vital role in soaking up carbon and storing it safely.  

The COP26 climate conference in Glasgow must be the turning point, and the UK must grasp this once in a generation opportunity to lead the way. Now is the time for bold action from our government so that the needs of nature and climate feed into everything we do – whether building houses, farming the land or fishing our seas.”  

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Net zero needs nature. Nature needs net zero. Both need to be resilient to the climate of the future. Nature’s fantastic ability to trap carbon safely and provide other important benefits is proven. But nature is in decline and faces even greater risk of degradation from the extreme climatic conditions that are already inevitable over the next 30 years. It’s becoming a vicious spiral of damage – one that has to be stopped right now.

“In addition to the urgent task of cutting emissions at source, we need to see an enormous rise in the amount of land and sea that’s protected for nature – and increase it to at least 30% by 2030. Also, the Government must embed climate action – mitigation and adaptation – across every department and take urgent steps to stop carbon-emitting activities such as new road building, peat burning and trawling the seabed.”


Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Devon Wildlife Trust and the wider Wildlife Trust movement is calling on the Government to:


  • Implement a ban on bottom-trawling the seabed in England
  • Give all seagrass habitats highly protected status
  • Renew pledges to protect coastal habitats and invest more in natural sea defences


  • Give a boost to sustainable farming that locks carbon into the soil and helps wildlife
  • Publish details on how Environmental Land Management Scheme will incentivise farmers to manage their land for nature-based solutions


  • Increase the natural regeneration of woods and where this cannot be done, plant resilient native trees instead
  • Ensure a mix of trees are planted in every location so as to have the best chance of survival in unpredictable conditions and in the face of increased pests and diseases


  • Make more space for nature everywhere including in towns and new developments. By 2030 we need to have protected 30% of our land and seas for nature. Create a new designation, Wildbelt, which protects places, including degraded land, that is put in recovery for nature
  • Ensure that planning reforms deliver the Government’s legally binding target in the Environment Bill to halt species decline by 2030


  • Ban the sale and use of peat in gardening and compost products, including imports
  • Significantly increase peatland restoration and repair 100% upland peat before 2050
  • Implement an immediate ban on peatland burning and end farming on deep peat


Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust says:

“Some progress towards nature’s recovery had been made by government, but the speed and extent of ambition needs to be increased to match the depth of the climate and nature emergencies we face.”

“For decades Devon Wildlife Trust has been undertaking projects with local communities which create greater space for nature and natural processes. This has included our work to restore North Devon’s Culm grasslands – which act as vital carbon stores. It includes our pioneering work to bring beavers back – which reduces pollution in our rivers and local flood risk. And it has seen us campaigning successfully for the end of destructive bottom-trawl fishing in large areas of Lyme Bay – providing a marine environment in which wildlife can begin to restore itself.”

“What we need now is action from government to build back nature on a grand scale, both in the South West and throughout the UK – in our seas, in our cities and in our countryside.”    

Devon Wildlife Trust projects which combat the climate and nature emergencies

Avon Valley - Connecting precious wildlife habitat - The picturesque Avon Valley (South Devon) supports less wildlife than it did in the past, largely because of changes in the way farmland and woodland is managed. For the past 10 years the Avon Valley project has worked to restore and re-connect precious wildlife habitat.

Upstream Thinking - Protecting our rivers - Working with farmers and landowners throughout Devon to address sources of pollution on farms, with the aim of using natural solutions to protect water quality and quantity and restore wildlife habitats. This project is supported by South West Water.

Bringing back Beavers - Introducing keystone species into the wild - Our work with beaver populations in East Devon on the River Otter and in West Devon on the River Tamar is paving the way for these amazing creatures to live in the wild once again. These natural engineers are transforming our rivers and wetlands for the better as well as storing climate-changing carbon helping to alleviate flooding. 

Culm Grassland Natural Flood Management Project - This rare habitat, a type of purple moor-grass and rush pasture peculiar to North Devon, is important for biodiversity; but it also has real potential to hold water, filter pollution and retain carbon. Understanding all of these ‘ecosystem services’ helps society to understand just how important these habitats can be. We’ve been working with local landowners, farmers and communities over the last 30 years to restore, recreate and reconnect Culm grasslands.

Exeter Valley Parks – bringing people closer to nature – the six Valley Parks managed by Devon Wildlife Trust see more than 700,000 visitors each year. In addition to being important spaces for wildlife, each Valley Park also plays a vital part in improving local people’s health and well-being, while also connecting them to nature.