Conservationists back more wetland restoration to fight climate change

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River bends at Longwater Lawn near Lyndhurst

MORE wetland like that found in the New Forest should be restored to help tackle climate change, according to the boss of a local nature trust.

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Debbie Tann, chief executive of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, spoke out to say a recent agricultural report by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government, had not gone far enough with natural solutions.

She said: “Turning intensive arable fields back into flower-rich grassland, restoring wetlands and, importantly, investing in reviving our incredible local coastal and marine habitats like saltmash and sea grass must all be part of the plan now.

“We need more ambition and a more radical rethink of how we use our space on land and at sea for the benefit of everyone and for the future.”

The trust pointed specifically to the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes nature reserve as successfully storing carbon and hosting a wealth of bird species.

Landscape restoration in the New Forest has proved controversial with protests recently over Forestry England tree-felling at Slap Bottom.

In 2016 plans to put back wetland at Latchmore Brook, near Fritham, were rejected by the national park authority amid local opposition to changing a popular beauty spot.

Despite its reservations, the trust welcomed the Committee on Climate Change’s overall call for a “transformation in land use” to meet the government’s goal of making the UK net-zero carbon by 2050.

The report prompted a joint “landmark commitment” from the heads of Natural England, the Environment Agency, and the Forestry Commission – which oversees operator Forestry England – to work together to deliver nature-based solutions.

Forestry Commission chair Sir Harry Studholme said: “Public interest in trees has never been higher. The climate emergency has highlighted the role forests play in absorbing carbon dioxide, while we also remember the breadth of their benefits.

“But, while the importance of planting more trees cannot be underestimated, it is also vital that we nurture and manage our woods to allow them to thrive to the fullest extent.”

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