Wildlife Friendly Otley has been working hard for several years on restoring habitats and improving biodiversity in and around the town and their work has now inspired Otley Town Council to declare a Biodiversity Emergency.
Last week, the Town Council pledged to do everything in its power to deliver gains in biodiversity and this declaration has been welcomed by the charity.
“We are delighted that the council has reacted positively to our case for declaring a biodiversity emergency. It’s a bold and pioneering commitment by a town like Otley and an example to other towns,” said a spokesperson for Wildlife Friendly Otley.. This represents an enormous boost to our campaign and projects for nature restoration which began in 2018 to make Otley a wildlife friendly town, the first in the country to do so.”
In the last year, Wildlife Friendly Otley, in conjunction with members of Otley 2030 and the Otley Nature Network, has produced several reports on the biodiversity emergency, nature restoration and the benefits of rewilding, which were submitted to Otley council in April. Work by the charity together with other nature organisations and local volunteers has been leading the way with several nature restoration projects and plus campaigning for people and organisations in the town to be more wildlife friendly in their gardens, grounds, homes and premises. It recently led the campaign, supported by Otley in Bloom, to save four flower beds at Wharfemeadows Parks which were to be grassed over. They are now full of insect-loving plants to flower this summer.
The charity has also argued the case for relaxed mowing around verges and public spaces in the town – an important part of habitat restoration - and they already work with several private landowners and organisations such as Wharfedale General Hospital, BT and Otley Parish Church where the public can currently enjoy a beautiful show of bee-friendly wildflowers.
Wildlife Friendly Otley said that restoring biodiversity is about re-establishing the rich interdependent ecosystems of nature on which we all ultimately depend. The rapid loss of our biodiversity is an emergency linked to, and just as serious as the climate emergency.
The world depends on insects to pollinate over 40 per cent of the food we grow. We also depend on nature and wildlife for our mental and physical wellbeing.
“This declaration is important as it is a public commitment to reverse the devastating decline in our wildlife and damage to the natural world; everything from birds to insects butterflies, mammals, plants and trees.” said the spokesperson.
“We particularly welcome the commitment in OTC’s declaration to work with local naturalist groups such as Wildlife Friendly Otley, Otley Nature Network, Otley 2030, Otley in Bloom and others to promote biodiversity schemes and support the extension of the Leeds Habitat Network and we look forward to working with the council."
All Wildlife Friendly Otley’s trailblazing reports and more about their vision for a nature friendly town can be read at https://www.wildlifefriendlyotley.org.uk/restoringhabitat
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