great tit tree

The “Action on Climate Change” open discussion held at the George & Dragon pub in Thurton, was a slightly different approach to a South Yare Wildlife Group meeting.

Over 20 of us introduced themselves and shared what we were keen to get out of the meeting and which areas of climate action we felt were of importance for SYWG to get involved with. The value of face to face discussion on this very broad topic were immediately apparent, as we were able to freely explore, question and verify areas of uncertainty with each other – Do you share your thoughts, fears and hopes on climate change with people in your community?

From some of the national and county data on carbon emissions shared by the committee members, attendees quickly brought the “big picture” back to the grass roots actions and local concerns that all felt they could and would be able to do something about. We had brief introduction from members of the Yare Valley Climate Future group, who are taking a direct community approach and sharing ways in which individuals can work together to reduce the impact of our villages on the environment. The Climate Future group have started to work positively with Rockland Parish Council to generate information on a carbon audit for the area – Have you asked your parish councilors how they are planning to tackle the climate crisis? 

In terms of the added value South Yare Wildlife Group activities and members actions could bring to the climate debate, one focus seized upon rapidly was protection and planting of trees. Trees have become a global icon both as a solution to reducing carbon in the atmosphere and as suffering from the impacts of unsustainable human practices: think rainforest destruction, Australian bush fires, etc. Locally, the legal system for protecting existing trees, via the local tree warden network was discussed – Do you know who your parish tree warden is and how they can protect trees at risk from harm? Planting trees was suggested as either a individual action in gardens, or on a slightly larger scale through the various schemes set up to distribute tree and hedge “whips” for planting in community or publicly accessed areas – Do you have or know of a suitable area for tree planting and can arrange for trees to be planted?

The main takeaway from the lively and honest discussion was that the main resource available to us in tackling climate change is actually ourselves. Without individual and community level actions to reverse our profligate use of carbon reserves, we won’t have moved forward. The South Yare Wildlife Group committee is due to review its three yearly action plan in 2020. The positive suggestions and helpful courses of action raised at this meeting will be incorporated and acted upon – Do you have enthusiasm to be involved with the South Yare Wildlife Group and be a part of this process? If so, please get in touch

Links and resources

Quick summary of what actions attendees were keen to share and gain from others on the journey to tackling climate change:

  • Worried about biodiversity loss, eg ancient woodlands; there are contradictory messages, especially through the planning process, as on the one hand rapid large scale tree planting, and on the other, loss of woodlands through development.
  • Synergy between groups pushing for climate action
  • Collaboration as a community to achieve larger scale benefits
  • How to influence others who do not share concern over climate change; how to influence landowners or those in power
  • When people come together, strengths can be gained; developing a sense of community; the value of face to face discussion should be celebrated, not just remote communication by social media
  • Need for “grass roots”, “bottom-up” activities; local government are encouraging parish councils to carry out carbon audits; there should be synergy with the Rockland climate group
  • Opportunity for people to get together and join in
  • Information on refill schemes from local suppliers; would like to see changes to the local economy and housing that do not contribute further to climate change
  • Acknowledgement that our current personal activities and interests are largely at odds with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the A146 locally, and road transport in general is extremely harmful
  • Following meetings organised by the local community in Rockland, the group has been set up called Yare Valley Climate Future (YVCF)
  • Rockland parish council have acknowledged the Climate Emergency; YVCF is developing a proactive agenda where villages are doing the positive actions,  where groups/individuals can pool resources, raise funds and set up planting schemes
  • Need to show that a difference has been made from whatever schemes are set up, either tackling climate change or biodiversity loss
  • It is important not to blame others, it is system change that is required
  • Keen to change own personal lifestyle and learn from others on how to do this
  • Want to learn more about rewilding, but how do we get involved and influence others
  • Keen to be with other people and get more done together
  • Focus for SYWG needs to be the climate change impacts on wildlife; peat used in horticulture is bad for carbon release and biodiversity where it is mined
  • Would like to see more rewilding; process for protecting trees is not well known, e.g role of tree wardens and gaining Tree Preservation Orders
  • Approach Parish Councils to plant trees on their land, eg. Claxton Village Hall
  • Acquire trees for villagers to take away and plant in their own gardens. Make an event of it!
  • Find land locally to collectively plant a community wood/wildlife/recreation area.
  • Allotments for Thurton/Ashby
  • Share our knowledge / signposting
  • Create your own Wild Patch
  • Grow trees; Protect trees
  • Use Public Transport
  • Spreading the message to friends, family and neighbours