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Report warns of people's impact on the environment
PEOPLE in Wiltshire and Swindon need to reduce their impact on the environment as the population grows, a new report has warned.
State of the Environment – Wiltshire and Swindon 2013, published on Tuesday by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on behalf of Link2Nature, highlights the environmental impact of dramatic population growth across the county.
It links how the economy and quality of life depend upon the state of the environment, which in turn is influenced by people’s lifestyles and activities, and brings together evidence on a range of issues relating to nature and the services it provides.
Report author Jenny Hawley said: “Wiltshire and Swindon’s environment is changing quickly. High levels of population growth, the fast pace of development and extreme weather events due to climate change are all taking their toll – both on our wildlife and natural habitats, and on our daily lives. It’s in our own interests to step up the pace in reducing our environmental impact and make sure we don’t lose out in the long term.
“Our natural environment provides us with so many goods and services, yet our demands upon it are unsustainable. It’s not a case of having to choose between the economy and the environment, there are lots of ways to build a healthy economy and a healthy environment that support each other and are resilient to climate change.”
Low-cost solutions that could be easily delivered in the county include building energy-efficient housing to save people money and reduce carbon emissions, planting trees to provide shade during heat waves, encourage wildlife and improve air quality, encouraging walking and cycling to reduce congestion, improve our health and connect us to nature and farming in ways that enhance soil quality and encourage wildlife while producing food and providing employment.
Councillor Toby Sturgis, Wiltshire Council Cabinet member and Link2Nature board member, said: “Wiltshire Council is pleased to support this invaluable report – it makes us step back, look at our environment as a whole and think about the impact of our activities. It’s a timely reminder of the immense value of nature’s goods and services.”
Fiona Reynolds, former director-general of the National Trust and author of the report’s foreword, said: “It’s great to see that we are already reducing our impact in many ways – carbon emissions and waste produced per person have fallen in recent years, farmers are making a difference through agri-environment schemes, there is new investment in restoration of our rivers and many important wildlife sites are being well protected. This is good news, yet there is so much more to do. This report gives us a compelling platform for action.”
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