Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency

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September 2023

Reducing our Carbon Footprint and increasing Biodiversity

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter. This is a place for us to update you on what we are doing at South Hams District Council and what things are going on around the district.

It will tell you what's going on nationally and things you, our residents and businesses can be doing to reduce your carbon footprint and manage your land to improve the environment and its biodiversity.

If you have anything you would like to include in this newsletter, contact our Climate Change Specialist by email here.

How we are working with Sustainable South Hams to prioritise climate and nature action


Watch our video on how we're working together: Click here.

SusSH was formed last year to connect, support and inspire sustainability projects across the South Hams.

The organisation shares vital knowledge with parishes and community groups to support on the ground climate action projects, so that meaningful and positive change happens faster.

Among SusSH's biggest achievements so far is their Rivers Assembly. They invited community group leaders and organisation representatives together to share knowledge and ideas on how to protect our rivers, with two action groups set up to look at protecting the River Erme and the River Avon.

SusSH has also organised a scrutiny group of volunteers with legal, engineering and data analysis experience to work with South West Water and the Environment Agency to look at overspills and how to protect the district's rivers and waterways.

Jane Nichols, CEO of Sustainable South Hams, said: "Action on climate change has to be a case of working both top down and bottom up. We have to do our bit, as communities and individuals, and we need government to do their bit too. We're all part of the system and part of the solution.

"The funding we've received from the Council has been vital in us carrying out our work locally - we just wouldn't have been able to do any of it without it.

"We've got a network of 42 sustainability groups now across the South Hams. Each one of those people connected, knows people. If we can create and share knowledge through that network, we're reaching thousands of people and our impact can be profound."

In June, the Council Executive pledged the organisation £40,000 of funding to help it continue its work on protecting the South Hams' biodiversity and fighting climate change.

We're also building even stronger ties between the Council and SusSH through our new Climate Change and Biodiversity Advisory Group, which will use specialist and expert knowledge to support the Council and wider community's climate ambitions. Its core aim will be helping develop district-wide projects that have an influence on lowering carbon emissions.

Cllr John McKay, South Hams Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: "Sustainable South Hams have only been around for around 12 months, but since funding them last year, they've done extraordinary things in terms of bringing small groups together and disseminating knowledge between them.

"They created a dynamic across the district that's very important. I want to see the Council tap into that energy and the clear gift that they have for organisation. That will help us achieve our climate change goals."


Royal Countryside Fund - Deadline 20 October 2023

Formerly the Prince’s Countryside Fund, the Royal Countryside Fund provides grants for projects taking places in villages and towns in rurally isolated areas, where access to services is limited. The aim is to address the challenges faced by those who live and work in rural areas.

The main grant programme is ‘Supporting Rural Communities’ which has an annual budget of £500,000 to support community-led solutions that enhance the viability and sustainability of rural communities.

Not-for-profit organisations can apply for up to £25,000 over two years for projects that support people to find solutions to issues in their local community. The fund is keen to support innovative work that builds community resilience in rural areas and helps to reduce isolation for people living in rural areas by improving service provision. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that there is widespread community support for their project.

Applications are invited from properly constituted, not-for-profit and community-led organisations in rural areas with a turnover under £500,000 per year. Local authorities, including Town and Parish Councils, are not eligible to apply.

Click here to apply and find out more.

Branching Out Fund - Deadline 3 December 2023

The Tree Council grants programme, Branching Out, is now open for applications from organisations seeking to establish trees, hedgerows and orchards in the 2023/24 planting season.

You can apply for grants between £250 and £2,500. Projects with strong community involvement will be looked on more favourably.

Projects over £500 will be expected to be include different types of planting and take broader environmental considerations into account.

Schools, colleges, community groups, care homes, parish & town councils, Tree Warden Networks, Community Interest Companies and small registered charities are all eligible to apply for funding.

Groups must have a bank account registered in the name of the applicant organisation, into which the grant can be paid.

Early applications are encouraged, both to increase the chances of a grant being awarded and to ensure that planting can take place as early as possible in the tree planting season so that the trees have the best chance of establishing.

Click here to apply and find out more.

Grants for Good - Deadline every 15th of the month

Every three months, the Matthew Good Founding will share £15,000 between five shortlisted projects that have a positive impact on communities, people or the environment and has an average income of less than £50,000 in the last 12 months.

Charities and projects are welcome to apply all year round, and applications will be considered in the next funding round. Funding will be awarded every three months, in April, July, October and January, with an application deadline of the 15th of the month before. For example, for the April round, applications will close on 15 March, for the October round, applications will close on 15 September.

Click here to apply and find out more.

Events and Webinars


Government for an agri-food revolution – lessons from Whitehall

Wednesday 13 September 2023 10 a.m to 11 a.m

Our food system has been through many revolutions before, but we need one now to tackle climate change and create positive change for nature and our health.

Largely we know what needs to change and we know that government will need to take the lead – so what’s holding things up and how can this change?

In this webinar, Jill Rutter, a former senior civil servant now at the Institute for Government, will help you understand how Whitehall works, why it doesn’t always work, what its challenges are, and how these could be overcome for the net zero challenge.

Neil Ward, Professor of Rural and Regional Development at the University of East Anglia and author of Net Zero, Food and Farming: Climate Change and the UK Agri-Food System, will also challenge your understanding of what government is for and ask us to reimagine what is possible.

He’ll take us on a whistle stop tour of previous food revolutions, and how the state shaped them.

Click here to register.


Back to School for September Group Leaders' Gathering

Wednesday 13 September 2023 10:30 a.m to 12 p.m

REconomy Centre, 13 Leechwell St, Totnes, TQ9 5SX

It's back to school time, so this month's group leaders gathering will be on everything education!

Sustainable South Hams hope that, with your input, they'll create an assembly early next year to connect, support and inspire great educational projects across the South Hams.

This is your chance to let them know what projects are happening in your area, what's working well and what could be better!

All are very welcome to come along, whether you've been before or you're new to SusSH gatherings.

They would love to have you join us to share your expertise if you have any experience or background in education or sharing knowledge around nature and the environment. If you have any questions, or resources for SusSH to share at the meeting, email

net zero

Net zero: The moment for multilateral governance and national regulation

Wednesday, 4 October 2023 2 p.m - 3:30 p.m

National net zero commitments now cover 88% of global emissions, 92% of GDP and 89% of the world’s population (Net Zero Tracker).

To support this, net zero guidance and standards now exist for organisations at every level of the economy. Still, an implementation gap exists with respect to net zero regulation and implementation at the national level. There is limited multilateral guidance on as to how nations develop and report their net zero commitments.

What would a good net zero governance look like, nationally and internationally? In this Oxford Net Zero webinar, fellows Selam Kidane Abebe and Kaya Axelsson, alongside expert contributors, will discuss national net zero regulation and the need for a multilateral guidance on net zero governance for governments.

How can coordinated mandates on net zero level the playing field and accelerate innovation across regions and the private sector?

Click here to find out more and register

Ongoing resources, help and tools

Energy Saving Devon - supporting the upgrading of Devon’s homes. Energy Saving Devon is delivered by Cosy Devon, a partnership between all of Devon's local authorities, their strategic partners and local community energy organisations.

It is administered by Devon County Council. Energy Saving Devon is your one stop shop for all things retrofit in Devon.

You can access help, resources and create your own refurbishment plan with its plan builder tool.

Click here for more information.

Decarbonise Devon - Decarbonise Devon supports organisations to  undertake the entire process of developing and delivering a project that saves  energy, reducing costs and carbon emissions.

Decarbonise Devon carries out the whole process for you: planning, project management, financing, finding trustworthy contractors, even verifying your impact.

Click here to find out more and get in touch.

Workplace Charging Scheme - The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that provides eligible applicants with support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle (EV) charge points.

Click here to find out more and apply.

South Hams Town and Parish Guide to Net Zero - While parish and town councils may have more limited resources than the district or county authority, parish and town councils can still be a very important force for good in their local areas to address the climate and ecological emergency.

We have curated a guide to get you started and provide tips here.

New Research and Publications

Heat records broken


According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) global air surface temperature for July 2023 was the highest on record for any month, going back to 1940. Multiple regions in the Northern Hemisphere experienced heatwaves and Southern Hemisphere regions experienced above average temperatures. The service has also confirmed that sea surface temperatures have been at a record high throughout May, June and July 2023 and has continued into August. The year so far (January to August) is the second warmest on record behind 2016, when there was a also a powerful warming El Niño event, as there has been in 2023.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres added to this news saying “Our planet has just endured a season of simmering -- the hottest summer on record. Climate breakdown has begun. Scientists have long warned what our fossil fuel addiction will unleash. Surging temperatures demand a surge in action. Leaders must turn up the heat now for climate solutions. We can still avoid the worst of climate chaos – and we don’t have a moment to lose,“

To read the story in full click here and for a deeper analysis of the data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) click here.

Image credit: Christian Julliard / Climate Visuals

Generational Differences in Climate-related beliefs, risk perceptions and emotions in the UK

nature people

New research into engagement with climate change has shown that whild it is often believed younger generations are more concerned by climate change, there has been a narrowing in the climate related beliefs and risk perceptions and the differences between generations are primarily in emotional engagement.

Click here to read more.

Peat deposits store more carbon than trees in forested peatlands of the boreal biome


The benefits of healthy peatland have been well documented in recent years, particularly surrounding their role as critical carbon stores.

A recent study published in the journal of scientific reports adds to this understanding.

This study looked at the difference in the carbon storage potential of peatland versus the storage potential of trees among forested peatlands.

The study demonstrates that peat can have higher carbon storage capacities than trees, and confirms that most of the carbon stored in boreal forested peatlands in found in the peat layers.

To read the study in full, click here.

Greening of small urban sites creates large positive ecological results, study finds


A study published in in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that increasing the diversity of native plants in a single urban green space resulted in a sevenfold increase in the number of insect species in a locally managed site within a densely urbanised area of a city which had limited access to surrounding greenspace.

The study was conducted in Melbourne, Australia and adds to a growing body evidence around the benefits of urban wilding.

To read the study in full, click here.

Why is there image credit in this edition?

All too often, the climate change imagery we see is ineffective at driving change – it may be aesthetically pleasing and illustrative but not salient or emotionally impactful. In an effort to combat this, we will be using imagery from Climate Visuals where appropriate.

Climate Visuals, is a project by Climate Outreach,  they have run major projects on visualising climate change, representing indigenous people in images, and promoting diversity in outdoor photography. Climate Visuals images were prominently displayed at COP26 in Glasgow.

All images available on the Climate Visuals website are captioned with an explanation of how they fit with the seven Climate Visuals principles, and why they work. Each image is linked to its original source and many are available to license from third party sites or download for free under Creative Commons licenses for use in non-profit blogs and articles such as this

Posted in SHDC.