Ban seabed trawling and protect peatlands to store carbon, Wildlife Trusts urge

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Conservationists are calling for a fishing ban english End farming on the ocean floor and deep peat as part of efforts to protect precious carbon reserves.

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Ahead of the International Cop26 Climate Dialogue Glasgow NS wildlife trust are warning that action is needed to restore nature on an ambitious scale if the world is to tackle the climate crisis.

The network of wildlife conservation charities is also calling for a ban on peatland burning and the sale of peat, “highly protected status” for all seagrass habitats, and the promotion of sustainable farming.

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They want to see more natural regeneration of woodlands, or native plantations, more space and new development for nature in towns, and a “wildbelt” designation that protects the land, putting in recovery for nature.

The trusts said climate change is deteriorating nature, while the loss of wildlife and carbon-storing habitats such as woodlands is undermining efforts to cut emissions.

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Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, warned that in addition to cutting emissions at the source, there is a need to “massively increase” the amount of land and ocean protected for nature.

In a report published ahead of the Cop26 talks, where countries will be under pressure to take action to curb dangerous warming, wildlife trusts called for action to halt climate and nature degradation.

The trusts want to see greater protection of carbon-storing habitats, including a new call in England to ban seashells that conservationists warn will release carbon stored in sediments and habitats.

Seagrass is also an important store of carbon and an important habitat for wildlife, so all seagrass habitats should be given highly protected status, and Government must renew its pledge to protect coastal habitats such as carbon-absorbing salt marshes.

Destructive farming such as lowland peat drainage and plowing also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so conservation groups are also calling for an end to growing crops on deep peatlands, among a series of measures to protect the precious habitat.

Conservationists are urging that all of the UK’s upland peatlands should be restored by 2050.

Mr Bennett said: “Nature’s impressive ability to safely trap carbon and provide other important benefits is proven – peatlands, woodland, saltmarsh and other wild habitats are important carbon stores.

“But these natural places are in decline and face greater risk of degradation from already inevitable extreme climatic conditions over the next 30 years.

“It is becoming a vicious cycle of damage – one that has to stop.

“In addition to urgent action to cut emissions at source, we need to see a massive increase in the amount of land and ocean protected for nature – and increase this by at least 30% by 2030.”

He also called on the government to incorporate climate action – efforts to cut emissions and tackle rising temperatures and extreme weather – and stop polluting activities such as new road construction, peat burning and trapping of the sea floor.

Wildlife trusts across the UK are taking action to get back to nature and tackle the climate crisis, including bringing beavers back to Argyll, Scotland, restoring fens and cultivating wetlands that keep peat wet and healthy and stores carbon in East Anglia.

They are working to re-wet upland peat in Yorkshire, and to regenerate salt habitats for wildlife, carbon storage, and to create a natural coastal flood buffer in Essex.

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