The Biodiversity Emergency

20 September 2019

Four months ago, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report showing that the variety of life forms on Earth were continuing to decline in every region of the world. This planet-wide reduction in biodiversity significantly reduces the capacity of nature to contribute to people’s wellbeing. (1)

Now, Green councillor, Sandra Bogelein is asking Norwich City Council to urgently take actions which would prevent the further loss of biodiversity and to enhance biodiversity in the city.

Councillor Bogelein said:

“The loss of so many species is a heartbreaking tragedy. It is clear that the main cause of the severe loss in biodiversity is human activity. We have to reverse this disastrous trend of more and more plants and animals becoming extinct on a global as well as on a local level. This means it is our duty to do everything we can to make sure we protect our local environment and animals. There is a lot more the council can do and we have included a number of suggestions from council staff about what they would like to see happening in their departments to increase biodiversity in the city. I am also hoping that we can get a lot more residents on board and spark an interest in finding out about local wildlife and what we can all do to increase biodiversity.”

One of the actions Councillor Bogelein is asking for is for the council to require three new trees to be planted for every new dwelling that is built. This ambitious requirement would follow the example of Hull City Council. (2)

Councillor Bogelein is urging the city council to ensure that every new development in Norwich achieves a net gain when it comes to biodiversity. She is keen for advice to be given to developers, helping them to make the most of the land and opportunity that they have, in terms of biodiversity. Even when brownfield sites are waiting to be developed, Councillor Bogelein wants to encourage their owners to sow wildflowers as a temporary measure to protect against further loss of biodiversity. (3)



(2)   Hull local Plan p. 204

(3)   The full text of Councillor Bogelein’s motion:

A recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report warns “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating” although “it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global.” Biodiversity loss is alarming. Species that have evolved over millennia are being lost forever as a direct result of human activity. Locally we experience a worrying decline of bee species and the hedgehog population, plus an anticipated loss of soil biodiversity. Immediate action is needed.


(1)Note that enhancing the local environment, including biodiversity, is part of the corporate plan priority of ‘great neighbourhoods, housing and environment’.

(2)Ask cabinet to urgently take up local measures to prevent the loss of and to enhance biodiversity by:

(a)Updating the Biodiversity Action Plan (last updated in 2002) to give a full overview of the biodiversity measures planned and taken across different teams

(b)Clarifying the local policy to require that every new development achieves a biodiversity net gain. This could be achieved by producing a Supplementary Planning Document (see e.g. North Hampshire or Cornwall biodiversity SPD) which provides developers with detailed guidance to ensure all developments deliver a biodiversity net gain

(c)Following the example of Hull by including a local policy in the local plan which requires three new trees to be planted for every new dwelling

(d)Using council publications to encourage the public to take biodiversity measures in their own homes, for example, in gardens, on roofs, balconies and window sills

(e)Promoting a Parks Biodiversity Toolkit to encourage community engagement with habitat creation such as flowering meadows for pollinating insects

(f)Including additional wildlife measures in council-owned gardens and communal areas (greening, wildflower beds, small mammal holes etc.)

(g)Conducting biodiversity audits in our local parks and open spaces and setting measurable targets and standards for biodiversity increase in local parks and open spaces

(h) Identifying suitable verges and establishing a ‘river of flowers’ wildflower programme where appropriate (see e.g. Rotherham Council) 

(i) Prioritising biodiversity targets in the River Wensum strategy

(j) Exploring opportunities to encourage the growth of wildflowers on brownfield sites which are waiting to be developed in line with existing evidence that brownfield sites can make an important contribution to biodiversity enhancement

(k) Joining the growing number of pesticide free councils across the UK (e.g. Glastonbury, Lewes, Hammersmith & Fulham), by establishing and implementing a long term plan to reduce chemical use as advised by Pesticide Action Network UK

(l) Educating residents about the risks of pesticides (e.g. through posters at allotment sites)

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