A University of Cumbria-led organisation has joined guardians of some of the biggest tracts of protected landscapes on earth in signing a pivotal COP26 statement calling for world leaders to support them.
Professor of Upland Landscapes Lois Mansfield, director of the Ambleside campus, which hosts and works with the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, said she was excited and thrilled as it was the only body involved linked to a university.
She explained: “The significance of this accord cannot be overestimated. For the first time ever, those involved in protected and conserved areas have come together to call on world leaders to support their work in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Orchestrated by National Parks UK, the statement was signed by many leading organisations, including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the World Commission on Protected Areas, Parks Canada and the United States National Park Service.
Prof Mansfield said the call to arms #UniteforNature and mantra, ‘if we fail here, we will fail everywhere’, was hard to ignore and had massive potential.
She added: “We are one enormous family of protected areas. The sheer power of multiple agencies coming together to make one statement of intent means we can now work collaboratively and internationally.
“The Lake District is very much part of this family and a microcosm of all that COP26 stands for, especially when we saw the recent floods. We need to know how to react, mitigate and adapt. It also links directly to Cumbria’s goal of reaching net zero carbon by 2037.
“Protected areas are not just pretty places, they are the pinnacle of biodiversity, interrelated to living landscapes in many parts of the world.
“If the battle against climate change and biodiversity loss is to be won, we must win it first in these special and conserved areas. Our role can be transformational.”
In the statement, campaign organisers said that no single site or organisation could address the global crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss.
It said: “We can be the first 30 percent that inspires and informs land and sea use choices across the remainder of the planet and we can be the places where billions of people connect with nature and become inspired to play an active part in combatting the dual crisis.”
Link to full statement, pictures and video clips.