FOLLOWING its pioneering declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019, Otley Town Council last week became one of the first councils in the country to declare a Biodiversity Emergency.

The declaration, proposed by Councillor Paul Carter (Lib Dem, Manor Ward) and seconded by council leader Cllr Richard Hughes (Lib Dem, West Chevin Ward) pledges to do everything within the Town Council’s power to reverse the decline in biodiversity and deliver measurable net gain.

Commenting on the declaration Cllr Carter said: “The UK has just 50 per cent of its biodiversity left and biodiversity is declining quicker than at any time in human history. Simply slowing that decline is not enough and we now need transformational change to provide the next generation with a better place to live.”

The declaration was made at the Full Council meeting on Monday, June 13th, 2022 and commits Otley Town Council to:

• Call on the UK Government to provide the resources to make measurable net gain possible

• Continue to work with Leeds City Council and naturalist groups to promote schemes that will improve biodiversity in Otley

• Support the extension of the Leeds Habitat Network within Otley

• Work with partners to measure the current level of biodiversity within Otley and

• Develop an action plan to deliver biodiversity net gain based on scientific evidence

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth including animals, insects, plants and bacteria and, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the UK ranks in the bottom 10 per cent globally and last amongst the G7 Group.

The House of Commons Environmental Committee noted that the UK failed to meet 14 of the 19 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the State of Nature report in 2019 suggested that 15 per cent of species in the UK are now threatened with extinction.

Cllr Carter said: “We are proud to follow our declaration of a Climate Emergency with one of a Biodiversity Emergency. While these are separate issues, they share a common thread in that we need urgent action in both areas to avoid a catastrophe.”