The Wildlife Trusts launch £30 million appeal to kickstart nature’s recovery across 30% of land and sea by 2030

Restoring Surrey’s lost chalk grasslands on the North Downs

Today The Wildlife Trusts launch 30 by 30, a public appeal to raise £30 million to start putting nature into recovery across at least 30% of land and sea by 2030. This comes as Prime Minister commits to protect 30% of UK land to boost biodiversity. To help achieve this target, Surrey Wildlife Trust will be working with partners to restore lost chalk grasslands across the North Downs to help boost pollinators and other wildlife.

30by30 campaign page

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:

“The headline commitment from the Prime Minister to protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land for biodiversity by 2030 is very welcome – it’s a good start. But the Government seems to think there is more land currently protected for nature than is actually the case. Our National Parks and AONBs are landscape not wildlife designations, and many of these places are severely depleted of wildlife because of overgrazing, poor management or intensive agricultural practices. Our Sites of Special Scientific Interest are supposed to be protected for nature but even around half of these are in a poor state and suffering wildlife declines.”

Nature has suffered serious declines for decades with 26% of UK mammals in danger of disappearing altogether and hedgehogs, red squirrels, bats, turtle doves, cuckoo, water voles and basking sharks all at risk. It is not only individual species that are threatened; the collapse in the abundance of nature also means many of our ecosystems are not functioning as they should. In Surrey sharp declines have been recorded in many invertebrate species, which are vital to the ecosystem: bumblebees have declined by 42%, ground beetles by 51%, butterflies by 44%, hoverflies by 25%, caddisflies by 42%, freshwater snails, slugs and mussels by 34%. (Source: The State of Surrey’s Nature; Surrey Nature Partnership 2017).

Lack of wild places and fragmentation of those that remain has had a disastrous effect. Only 10% of land is protected in the UK and much of this is in poor condition. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts recently called on Government to introduce a new landscape designation for England called ‘Wildbelt.’ This would be for the purpose of putting land into nature’s recovery, such as through the creation of wildlife corridors, through farms, road verges, large estates, local parks or even people’s gardens.

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust, said:

“With support from the PM today, his ‘leaders pledge’ to prioritise a green recovery from coronavirus and deliver ambitious biodiversity targets reinforces our 30 by 30 campaign. However, fundamental misunderstandings about how to meet those targets must be resolved. Whilst Surrey contains beautiful countryside, the biodiversity is poor. A third of wildlife is in decline or at risk of extinction in Surrey and these landscapes like the North Downs are becoming wildlife wastelands. So we need to work with others to show how to bring wildlife back to their land, and we’re calling for nature’s recovery through a new package of policy measures including big new ideas like ‘Wildbelt’.”

“We all need nature more than ever. We all need to rewild our lives to support a green recovery. By supporting our 30 by 30 target we’ll have wilder landscapes that store carbon and provide on-your-doorstep nature for people too. Our vision for Surrey is an abundance of wildlife in people’s gardens, alongside footpaths, road verges and through towns with rivers and hedgerows providing living corridors to enable wildlife to thrive.”

 

The Surrey 30 by 30 project

Restoring lost chalk grassland on the North Downs

© James Adler

Funds raised by The Wildlife Trusts’ new 30 by 30 appeal will go towards nature recovery projects that will put new land aside for nature as well as repair and link-up existing, fragmented, wild areas.

Surrey Wildlife Trust aims to restore some of the most endangered areas of natural habitat, on the North Downs by working with councils, landowners, charities, farms, vineyards, schools and community groups. The beautiful ridge of chalk hills stretches from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. They are also home to a very rare habitat – chalk grassland – which has been steadily declining in the UK since the end of the World War Two.

The iconic Surrey landscape, which people have visited for day trips from London and further afield for centuries is suffering. Surrey has some of the fastest declining wildlife populations in England, with one third of its species now either extinct or in danger. This includes local extinctions of some bee species, such as the shrill carder bee.

The most well-known places on the North Downs are rooted in the hearts and souls of local people as ‘go to’ places to visit at weekends for peace and relaxation. Many families have benefitted from this landscape for generations. But now we need to give back to this landscape for future generations. Improving the condition of this chalk ridge in popular visitor destinations as well as lesser known places such as Hackhurst Downs, Norbury Park and Sheepleas.

England has lost more than 80 per cent of its chalk grassland which is devastating to pollinators and insects. Now more than ever we must take action, because we are facing a pollinator and insect crisis, with 41 per cent of insects facing extinction. The vision is to expand flower-rich chalk grassland and wildflower meadows along the North Downs, so they become alive with the humming of bees alongside beautiful bugs and butterflies dancing from flower to flower.

Surrey Wildlife Trust wants to work with others in this area to restore these historic chalk ridges between Guildford and Reigate, which were once needed to protect us in case of enemy invasion in World War Two. They are still needed today to protect our health and wellbeing and to protect the future of our bees, bugs and butterflies in Surrey.

Support The Wildlife Trust’s 30 by 30 public appeal and Surrey Wildlife Trust will:

·Work in partnership with farmers, landowners and vineyards on the North Downs to identify poor quality chalkland and target areas for chalk grassland restoration

·Get Surrey buzzing with local groups, volunteers and schools who want to restore colourful ribbons of community greenspaces with wildflower superhighways for pollinators

·Encourage local authorities to relax their management of road verges and parks, letting grass grow longer and allowing wildflower areas to develop, to save costs by reducing grass-cutting and benefitting wildlife

·Engage new environmental advocates in counting the abundance and diversity of pollinator species like solitary bees and hoverflies in the county.

·Enable volunteers to get their gloves on to remove unwanted vegetation which smothers and prevents the wildflowers and plants we want to flourish

·Restore and repair hedgerows, which support pollinators and some of our most-loved species such as hedgehogs and dormouse.

Make a donation

Help us restore 30% of nature by 2030
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© Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Andrew Jamieson, Project Development Manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said:

“Thriving chalk grassland habitat supports so many diverse species of wildlife. The North Downs is one of Surrey’s natural treasures and we all need to take responsibility to restore it back to its former glory. Support the Wildlife Trusts in its 30 by 30 campaign and we will help people in Surrey reconnect and revitalise this stretch of countryside so bees, bugs and butterflies can breed and prosper for our future.”

Alison Steadman, actor and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts says:

“Over the last few years, I have been in awe of young people’s concern for the planet, the school strikes and their passion for the natural world. The older generation, too, have been marching for change because they remember a time when things were different.

“I am supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ inspiring 30 by 30 appeal because we all need nature in our lives once more. This ambitious campaign will unite people in working for a common goal that benefits us all – one of nature’s recovery. We can all do something to help wildlife thrive again – we must do this for nature, for ourselves and for future generations.”

Surrey Wildlife Trusts’ 30 by 30 appeal asks people, individuals, corporates and communities to donate.

Our website is also packed full of helpful guides and information about how you can support our work and create wildlife friendly areas where you live.

Taking action

Simple actions for wildlife

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© Jon Hawkins

Wildlife gardening

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© Tom Marshall