Politicians, companies and environmental groups are meeting to launch an ambitious Blue Recovery plan
Government, politicians, environmental organizations and companies participated in the online launch of WWT’s Blue Recovery today. The plan calls for the restoration and creation of 100,000 hectares of wetlands across the UK (almost three times the size of the Isle of Wight) to cope with today’s climate, natural and wellness crises and to rebuild better after Covid 19.
At the event, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) requested pledges from government, businesses, landowners, private investment and environmental organizations to support its Blue Recovery initiative ahead of a public launch later this year.
The host was Siobhan Baillie MP, whose Stroud constituency includes WWT’s Slimbridge headquarters. She said: As a member of WWT, I welcome this exciting initiative because we must act to save wetlands as priceless ecosystems. England alone has lost around 90% of its wetlands in the past 500 years.
Bitter, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
Such a devastating loss of habitat is contributing to the environmental crisis we face today. But we cannot succumb to doom and darkness. The Blue Recovery Plan offers a real opportunity to address these challenges by restoring and creating healthy new wetlands on a large scale. I am delighted to be supporting WWT and creating an all-party group on wetlands. I look forward to the progress in the years to come. “
- Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary State Secretary, Ministry of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra)
- Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England
- Christine McGourty, Managing Director of Water UK
- Dr. James Robinson, Director of Conservation at WWT
- A film with actor and activist Sir Mark Rylance and Kate Humble, President of WWT
At the event, Dr. Robinson detailed the Blue Recovery Plan and outlined the natural wetland networks WWT is calling for to solve the environmental and societal problems that affect us all. These are networks of:
- healthy salt marshes on the coast, such as those in the WWT reserve on the Steart Peninsula, the Save more carbonfaster than other habitats and thus slows down climate change
- rural inland wetlands for natural flood management This uses these habitats to slow the river and hold back water – like the government-sponsored WWT project in West Somerset. This is a proven, effective and inexpensive way to reduce the risk of flooding
- Urban wetlands – like WWT’s project to restore the Salt Hill Stream in Slough – can be even more beneficial to wellbeing than green spaces
- Treatment wetlands, many of which were designed and installed by WWT, filter out a wide variety of pollutants and help bring rivers and other bodies of water back to life
In the year that the UK hosts the UN Climate Change Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow, Dr. Robinson how a blue recovery can help the prime minister demonstrate global leadership. And help implement the UK Government’s 25-year environmental plan by leveraging the wide range of natural “services” provided by wetlands and integrating them into the proposed Nature Recovery Network (a national network of wildlife-abundant sites, to grow and restore) involve nature).
Dr. Commenting on Robinson, the benefits of wetlands, ranging from climate change mitigation to flood risk control, are substantial and far outweigh those of many other habitats. They are biological super systems. The UK government must recognize this. We need a green recovery with a blue recovery at heart, where restoring and creating 100,000 hectares of wetlands is a priority. This wetland network would provide significant natural services to communities and businesses while creating vital habitats for endangered wildlife. Climate, nature and wellbeing affect us all – but we can do something about it, and investing in wetlands is one of the best ways to do it. From our wild and windswept coastlines to our crowded, concrete jungles, we can all benefit so much from bringing natural wetlands back into our lives.
Christine McGourty, Managing Director of Water UK said: As a sector rooted in the environment, we believe wetlands and other nature-based solutions will play a key role in our commitment to delivering net-zero water supplies to customers by 2030 Our industry pilots have shown that scaling up is not only a natural solution to filtering water, it also offers broader benefits, adding new living spaces and beautiful outdoor spaces, while also providing a natural defense against the effects of climate change.