Governments around the globe have recognised the Climate and Nature emergencies. The State of Nature Report for Wales produced in 2019 paints a worrying picture for nature with key headlines including: 8% of species in Wales are threatened with extinction; since 1970 the UK has seen 41% of species have seen declines in their populations; in Wales wildlife is found in 30% fewer places. Much of these declines in nature are attributable to human activity such as agricultural practices, pollution and urbanisation. Loss of nature impacts our lives. The benefits we rely on day to day that are gleaned from nature, e.g. pollination of our food, flood alleviation and scrubbing of air pollutants from the air we breathe, are rapidly being eroded by such declines in nature.
Wales has a suit of strong environmental legislation. The United Nations stated “We hope that what Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow” about the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This act, together with the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, seek to ensure that Wales is a sustainable and forward looking country.
Under Section 6 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 “the Act”, Neath Port Talbot Council (NPTC), has a statutory duty to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of its functions. As part of that duty we are required to prepare and publish a plan on how we intend to comply with this; the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems duty.
The first Biodiversity Duty Plan for Neath Port Talbot (NPT) was published in December 2017. In this there were targeted actions that would be undertaken by the Council to meet the requirements of the Act. Subsequently, a report on progress against the plan was produced in 2020, for the period from December 2017 to the end of March 2020. This report, titled the Implementation Report, is available to view on the Council’s website.
The Implementation Report highlights the positive work undertaken by NPTC for biodiversity, demonstrating good progress against delivery of the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems duty. The report also identified changes that should be made to the actions in development of the new, and updated Biodiversity Duty Plan (the Plan). This new Plan, covering the period April 2020 to March 2023, sets out the means by which the Council will deliver against its statutory duty for biodiversity, and consequently support global action in reversing the decline in biodiversity.
Biodiversity drives the functioning and resilience of our ecosystems
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defined ecosystems as:“a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organisms and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit”