Henley Town Council Declares a Nature Emergency

Following a meeting of the Full Council last Tuesday (23rd April), Henley Town Council has announced its declaration of a Nature Emergency, marking a significant step in its commitment to environmental stewardship. This declaration follows the council’s previous declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2020, and acknowledgement and an Ecological (Nature) Emergency in 2022.

The decision to declare a joint Nature and Climate Emergency stems from the campaigning of local environmental group, Greener Henley, who first urged Henley Town Council to declare the nature emergency in June last year. Henley Town Council also acknowledged the alarming findings of the recent State of Nature Report 2023, a collaborative effort by over 60 organisations including the National Trust, RSPB, and the Wildlife Trusts. Among the report’s findings were the alarming realities of the UK’s depleted natural landscape, with notable declines in pollinator species, flowering plants, and bird populations.

Henley Town Council’s resolve to address these issues can be seen in the recently unveiled 5-year Strategic Plan, which outlines various environmental objectives under the section ‘Caring for Our Environment’. These objectives include implementing ecology management plans, achieving Bee Friendly status, increasing community awareness, and conducting a thorough nature audit of the council’s green spaces.

Mayor-elect Rory Hunt said during Tuesday’s meeting, “We have already declared a climate emergency and nature is, to my mind, just as important. Having a vibrant ecosystem should be to the delight of all with us spending time in vibrant green spaces in our incredibly beautiful area of the country. However, we are stewards of these green spaces and we have a duty to preserve and enhance them, and it is right that we take action to do our duty in this regard. Perhaps most promptly we’ve seen horrific and illegal dereliction of Duty by Thames Water ruining the ecosystem in the River Thames, affecting the local wildlife and seriously endangering those who use the river for recreation or for those who rely on the river. In addition to the excellent work we have already done to address the nature issue and climate issue such as supporting Nature Squared and the wildlife areas that we enhanced already on Mill Meadows and Marsh Meadows, this declaration will help us to further address this issue, show we are taking it seriously and enact the plan within our strategic plan to address this.”

Commenting on the council’s decision, Kate Oldridge, Chair of Greener Henley, said, “Greener Henley called upon the council to declare a Nature Emergency last June, and we welcome the recent announcement which is so critical at a time when the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.  Our council’s Nature Emergency declaration gives nature an essential seat at the table in all council decisions made. This is a wake-up call for the urgent action we must take at community level to halt biodiversity loss and begin to restore nature and ecosystems both locally and further afield (in terms of our environmental footprint).   We are looking forward to working with the Council to help to support this nature emergency declaration, and we would urge any volunteers who are interested in taking action to protect and restore nature to reach out to us at greenerhenley@gmail.com.  In particular, we are encouraging everyone to get involved in our Nature Squared campaign to plant 1m2 or more of wildflowers for pollinators, and we are calling out for volunteers to help to organise our Nature Discovery Day on Saturday 8th June to mark the beginning of Great Big Green Week – find out more here.”

  1. Neil Gunnell says:

    Good news on pollinators. Could the council get behind communication efforts to get citizens watching our for Asian Hornets which are close to reaching our shores in large numbers and which could decimate our honey bees? That would be something really beneficial to include.

    • Jack Frost says:

      I have been with volunteering greener henley for more than a year, not seen any hornets so far. If they are not English or European Hornets what should we do? squash them? trap them?
      I don’t think anyone wants a sting from something that big.

  2. Jack Frost says:

    There is no “climate crisis” or “climate emergency”.
    Understand that the magnetic poles are moving, the atlantic ocean current (amoc) is slowing down and “global warming” is very obvious propaganda.

    Nature is doing its own thing. humand DO NOT affect it.

    polluting the river water we All rely on to live is the biggest problem apart from air pollution.


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