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The UK's very own 'rainforests': kick-starting #GenerationRestoration for World Environment Day

04/06/2021 News

For this year's World Environment Day, we asked one of our newest members of the team to reflect on our vision for #GenerationRestoration

I’m Becca, I’m one of the new Kickstart placements here at the Y&NY LEP and my official role is Climate Action Support Assistant, sitting in the Low Carbon and Environment team. Coming from a Biology background with a keen interest in the environment, the role seemed like a great opportunity to make a difference – however small – to the looming and ever-relevant climate crisis. Since joining two months ago, I’ve learned a lot about the relevant policies and funding surrounding it. I was initially tasked with various reading materials, including the Government’s Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, as well as some internal studies, and not to mention a plethora of acronyms to learn! One of the main studies to get my teeth into was the Carbon Abatement Pathways study, which, though a little daunting at first, is full of invaluable research around what the next steps are to enable us to decarbonise our part of the world. The study is one of the reports and strategies that comes together to create one overarching plan for decarbonisation – the Routemap to Carbon Negative for York & North Yorkshire. The Routemap is split into different sectors such as Agriculture, Transport and Industry, and for each section we’ve been holding online discussions called roundtables for partners to share their thoughts and to reach consensus on targets to tackle climate change. In light of World Environment Day and #GenerationRestoration, it’s only fitting that we explore the Land Use and Agriculture roundtable and one of the UK’s most significant ecosystems: peatlands. Often referred to as our very own rainforests, the UK’s peatland stores around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, and covers around 12% of land (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology). In the Routemap, the ultimate goal is to restore peatland to 100%, which, during the roundtable, was acknowledged as an ambitious but wholly crucial target. Some concerns were raised around how achievable the target is in a warming world, and how policy would need to change to adjust access to these ecosystems - all of these factors are taken into careful consideration as we curate the path to carbon negative. The importance of recognising that the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis go hand in hand was also prevalent among discussions, which of course reflects the nature of an ecosystem. Although there is still work to do, the Routemap’s vision encapsulates the theme of #GenerationRestoration, and will ultimately aid in kick-starting the preservation of our ecosystems in York and North Yorkshire. Though ambitious with our targets, they are feeling more and more achievable in each step of the process, and being part of the Routemap development has highlighted the need for working from the ground up at a local level and real collaboration to achieve them and, by 2040, reach carbon negative. We have had a real variety of organisations join us so far in the roundtable process, from national rail companies to local community groups – if you’d like to be involved, do sign up to our newsletter here.
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