This item is a discussion and does not have a report attached.
The Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology and Sustainable Growth was invited to a discussion on wildlife management and the wider approach to the Ecological Emergency.
Members had heard positive things about Parks management, but also received reports that the contracts in place may be complex, potentially locking in to a type of approach around, for example, verges.
The Cabinet Member noted that approaches to verges vary, with different mowing times dependent on the area. There was an issue around communications with the public; the change from cut verges to a less managed approach could create the perception of neglect, and there had been instances where staff were abused by members of the public.
The Parks Development Manager added that moving from an amenity cut to something better for wildlife required certain considerations. In terms of contracts most verge cutting took place in-house so there was a degree of flexibility with this, with an exception being an agricultural works contract that cuts meadows rather than verges. Part of the move towards a more wildlife friendly approach required a change to the machinery used in order to remove the risings which would traditionally be left in situ. It was estimated that this would have the necessary impact on soil after around three years. Consideration was needed around the programme to change machinery, the approach, and messaging with the public. The team was looking at potential sites to develop the details.
The Ecological Emergency programme and strategy was discussed. Bristol was the first city in the UK to announce an Ecological Emergency in February 2020, with the Climate and Ecological Emergency programme brought to Cabinet later in the year. This sits within the One City approach. A full action plan was anticipated by March 2021.
Members requested sight of the draft Ecological Emergency paper to be shared with the Commission for comment prior to the finalised document progressing to Cabinet. This was agreed.
Members noted that Bristol City Council conducted a trial on being glyphosate free in some areas across the city. The conclusion was not to end its use, but there is now a One City target to reduce its use. Officers stated that options are being reviewed to meet this target.
Members requested consideration of the use of leaf blowers due to the impact on biodiversity. The noise could also negatively affect people with autism. The Cabinet Member noted these concerns.
A member raised the issue of fly tipping and habitat. The Cabinet Member noted this. Officers added that the appearance of some spaces that were deliberately being left to support biodiversity gave the erroneous impression that the land was ‘neglected’.
Members asked if there were opportunities to be more pro-active, particularly in supporting insect life. It was confirmed that insects as pollinators are high on the agenda, and the Cabinet Member noted the point for further consideration. This is a collaborative approach and input had been sought from organisations such as Avon Wildlife Trust and the National History Consortium.
The Cabinet Member and Officers were thanked for their attendance and the discussion.
RESOLVED; That the draft Ecological Emergency action plan paper be shared with the Commission for comment prior to the finalised document progressing to Cabinet; and
That the Cabinet Member note the comments raised by Members for consideration alongside the Ecological Emergency action plan.