Church of England biodiversity move is praised

 In News

A Church of England decision to promote wildlife on its land sends a very powerful environmental message, says a Midlands green energy expert.

Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd, was commenting after their ruling body, the General Synod, agreed last month to give biodiversity equal consideration with net zero carbon as an urgent response to the ecological crisis.

The church will promote its churchyards as havens of wildlife and plants as well as promoting the stewardship of its agricultural and forestry land.

“This is a very significant step,” said Ron, “as the church is one of the biggest land owners in the country with 200,000 acres held by its commissioners, 42 dioceses and 12,500 parishes.”

The move comes after Synod members agreed recently to cut carbon emissions in its religious buildings.

“He added: “I agree with the Church of England’s lead Bishop for the Environment, Graham Usher, who said if the church could not put its own house in order, why would they expect anyone else to?”

Members of the Synod welcomed progress already made by the Church Commissioners, the National Church Institutions, dioceses, parishes, cathedrals and schools in managing their land for climate and nature.

But they approved further action to increase biodiversity, including drawing up environmental policy and land management plans for dioceses and recording biodiversity in church green spaces.

They also want the Church Commissioners to report back to the General Synod within three years on their progress in enhancing biodiversity across their agricultural and forestry land.

Bishop Graham of Norwich said that in many parishes the churchyard was the only remaining ‘species-rich’ grassland untouched by post Second World War cultivation and development.

He added that in urban areas, churchyards were often the only green space and that when they were managed well, then nature could thrive there.

Ron pointed out: “With the twin interrelated crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

“A total of 2 per cent of species are already extinct; 41 per cent of species have declined since 1970; 26 per cent of our mammals are at risk of extinction and 97 per cent of UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s.”

He also said the Synod’s decision sent an important message to the Anglicans in the poorest parts of the world who were on the front line of climate change.

On cutting carbon emissions all churches are being encouraged to switch to a 100 per green electricity tariff for its heating by the end of this year.

By the end of 2025 all churches are set to have energy efficient lighting installed and no new oil boilers are to be installed after this date. Churches which are tourist destinations were encouraged to look at having electric charging points for coaches.

And by the end of 2027 the top 20 per cent of energy-consuming churches in each diocese should have a Net Zero Carbon Action Plan in place.

Ron, of Noreus Ltd, which is based at Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park, concluded: “Our churchyards should be places of the living, not just the dead.”

For advice on boosting nature and cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions contact Ron Fox on 01782 756995.

Caption: Sending the right message – A Church of England decision to promote wildlife on its land has been praised.

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