MORE steps to protect nature in Swansea have received the unanimous backing of councillors, although concerns were raised about losing green fields to new housing estates.
Councillors supported a motion to declare a nature emergency, on top of a climate one approved in 2019.
The nature motion ran to well over 800 words and acknowledged the work already under way in Swansea but said more was needed.
The leader of the council, Cllr Rob Stewart, will now write to Boris Johnson and Mark Drakeford asking for more resources and powers to enable the council to deliver an integrated action plan for nature and climate change.
Potential actions include more work with community groups and schools to encourage more people in Swansea to maintain and enhance wildlife where they live.
The council already has a corporate objectives to maintain and enhance Swansea’s natural resources and biodiversity.
New city centre schemes and developments of 10 houses or more have to incorporate greenery in their plans.
Tree-planting and sand dune protection projects are under way or planned.
Seconding the motion, Cllr Andrea Lewis, cabinet member for climate change and service transformation, said: “There is a huge amount of work already happening. With more funding and resources we can so so much more and at a faster pace.”
Swansea Conservative leader, Cllr Lyndon Jones, said many people had rediscovered the environment around them since the Covid pandemic and “liked what they saw”.
He added: “It’s very important that we take people with us and not simply tell them what to do.”
Cllr Wendy Fitzgerald, of Independents@Swansea, said the council had taken positive steps but was also doing things “which are not acceptable”.
She said nearly 200 trees had been lost after permission was granted for a housing scheme at the former civic offices in her Penllergaer ward, and that several kilometres of hedgerows were due to make way for more house-building.
“This is shocking; this should not be happening,” she said.
Cllr Mike Day, on behalf of the Swansea Liberal Democrats, said councillors needed to be seen to be taking a lead on protecting nature.
But he said there were “difficult balances” involved.
He said damage had been caused to Singleton Park, Sketty, as a result of commercial activities, and he also cited concerns about a new shared-use path running through Clyne Valley Country Park.
The motion was introduced by Cllr Peter Jones, who said life in all its forms on planet Earth was at serious risk and that humans were responsible.
The natural world, he said, provided medicines, fresh water, ways of storing carbon, as well as being “essential” for our physical and mental well-being.
The motion said 17% of species in Wales were at risk of extinction.
“We need to speak up for nature – nature is unable to speak up for itself,” he said.
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