COP26 is an unmissable opportunity to change the future for our planet

COP26 is an unmissable opportunity to change the future for our planet

Seagrass bed © Paul Naylor

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside supports today’s statements by The Wildlife Trusts regarding COP26.

As Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Craig Bennett, says: “The climate and nature crisis is becoming a vicious spiral of damage – one that has to be stopped right now.”

We support the calls for change and have already been heavily involved in protecting wildlife and habitats and creating areas that are helping the environment by storing carbon.

The sun setting and casting shafts of light over the pools on a peat bog

Pool system on peat bog by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION


  • Significantly increase peatland restoration and repair 100 per cent of upland peat by 2050.

  • Implement an immediate ban on peatland burning and end farming on deep peat.

  • Ban the sale and use of peat in gardening and compost products, including imports.

We are one of the leading conservation organisations in the country when it comes to peatland restoration. As well as being experts on lowland peat bogs, we are also involved in the Lancashire Peat Partnership, which is working to improve the management of peat uplands like the West Pennine Moors and Bowland Fells.

Our work on preserving peatlands is vital for the environment. These vast areas, when managed correctly, absorb carbon and then store it over thousands of years. By contrast, a degraded peatland actively leaks carbon into the atmosphere.

Our restoration work also creates habitats for rare plants and creatures that have been missing from large parts of our region for more than 150 years, like the large heath butterfly, the white-faced darter dragonfly and some exciting carnivorous plants.

Then there is our carbon farm at Winmarleigh Moss, which will offer opportunities for companies to offset their carbon and for farmers to source funding and help the environment.

A large part of our peatlands work involves campaigning for a ban on peat compost, to ensure that these superhero habitats aren't destroyed and your beautiful gardens can be a haven for wildlife without eliminating wild places elsewhere. As part of our role in the Lancashire Peat Partnership, we're also calling for better moorland management. Currently dry and degraded, our moors have an untapped power to soak up and retain rainwater; preventing fires and stopping floodwater from devastating the towns and villages below. It's good for wildlife, good for people, and good for the overworked firemen and volunteers who dread dry spells on the moors around Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

A grey seal pup swimming through a seaweed bed

Grey seal by Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

The sea

  • Implement a ban on bottom-trawling the seabed in England.

  • Give all seagrass and saltmarsh habitats highly protected status.

  • Renew pledges to protect coastal habitats and invest more in natural sea defences.

We're proud to work with other Wildlife Trusts and conservation organisations through Living Seas North West to ensure that large parts of the Irish Sea and its coast are protected. This is crucial if our seas and their wildlife are to recover. More than 250 square kilometres of the Irish Sea, and our wildlife-rich estuaries, are currently protected by the Fylde Marine Conservation Zone because of their importance to wildlife and the environment, and we'll continue to campaign for more protections.

When it comes to climate change and the terrifying challenges that come with it, our coast is an important piece of the puzzle. Our 106ha Barnaby's Sands and Burrows Marsh nature reserve - an important saltmarsh - stores an incredible amount of carbon, and captures much more, at an estimated rate of 210 tonnes per hectare per year. Then there are the Fylde sand dunes, an important soft sea defence that acts as a barrier at high tide and releases sand during storm conditions, slowing wave action.

A yellowhammer perched at the top of a shrub covered in bright green leaves

Yellowhammer by Chris Gomersall/2020VISION


  • Give a boost to sustainable farming that locks carbon into the soil and helps wildlife to thrive.

  • Publish details on how Environmental Land Management Schemes will incentivise farmers to manage their land for nature-based solutions.

We are working with closely with farmers on ELMS to look at ways they can enhance wildlife on their land by, for instance, planting more hedgerows. Hedgerows are vitally important to all kinds of mammals, birds and insects, but they have vanished in many parts of the UK or aren't managed to benefit wildlife. Hares and hedgehogs are heavily dependent on hedgerows, and their populations have plummeted over the years.

After years of troubled relationships between conservationists and farmers, it is heartening to see everyone working together to help nature and the environment, with the National Farmer's Union even showing an interest in our carbon farm at Winmarleigh. Only by working together will we solve the climate and nature crisis and keep our farmers thriving too.

Bluebell Woodland - Dean Wood

Becka Colley-Foster - Bluebells in Dean Wood 


  • Increase the natural regeneration of woods and where this cannot be done, plant resilient native trees instead.

  • Ensure a mix of trees is 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.

Woodlands are, of course, another excellent natural solution to the climate crisis, and we're committed to safeguarding the precious woods on our nature reserves. This includes some of the last remaining ancient woodland in the North West, for example, Boilton Wood on Brockholes nature reserve in Preston.

Our planting and woodland management ensures that native trees, plants and creatures can thrive in these areas, and the heart-stopping beauty of these woods is preserved to inspire future generations.

A visitor to a nature reserve walking past a bee orchid

Tom Marshall


  • Make more space for nature everywhere including in towns and new developments. By 2030 we need to have protected 30 per cent of our land and seas for nature. We must create a new designation, Wildbelt, which protects places (including degraded land) that are put into recovery for nature.

  • Ensure that planning reforms deliver the Government’s legally binding target in the Environment Bill to halt species decline by 2030.

By designating a Wildbelt, which protects and allows improvements to areas that aren't just nature reserves, we can begin to create a Nature Recovery Network that will help wildlife bounce back.

We are not anti-development, but we do insist that any building offers net gain for the environment. Net gain means that development must leave the natural environment in a better state than it was before the work began. Nature must benefit from development and that must be costed into plans. We're keen to work with industry and businesses who want to make their developments nature-friendly, and offer consultation through Building with Nature. Businesses can also work with us through carbon offsetting or funding our projects.

Any Environment Bill must contain powers to ensure that the environment and wildlife receive more protection than ever before.

Campaigns Manager, Alan Wright, commented:

“COP26 is seen as almost the last throw of the dice in protecting an environment where most of us feel so comfortable. It is vitally important that people and governments realise that this is not just about a climate crisis, this also a crisis for biodiversity – our plants and creatures - and the climate crisis cannot be solved without also solving this nature crisis.

“Wildlife is facing extinction not just around the world but in our parks, gardens and woodlands. This is not just something that is happening on TV - it is happening to the insects and birds that we see every day.

“Can you imagine a future where your children and grandchildren will not see a hedgehog, hear a cuckoo or see a purple emperor butterfly in the wild? Our mammals, birds and insects have suffered catastrophic population declines over the past century and we will lose them if things carry on as they are. We cannot sit back and say that everything will be okay.

“Our Government is talking about leading the way to turn this crisis around and that is great news, but it is up to us to ensure that they stand by their promises. And it is up to us to do something ourselves. If one in four of us changed our behaviour to do something for wildlife and the environment it would start to reverse the downward trend that can only spell disaster for our planet.

“We depend on nature and nature is depending on us. COP26 must be a defining moment for the planet, for our leaders and for every one of us.”

Will you speak up for me?

Help us to restore 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030

Making more space for nature will give our struggling wildlife chance to recover.

Together we can save wildlife.

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