Awards scheme encourages schools and community groups to take action for the environment launched
The 2023 Wilder Kent Awards, launched today by conservation charity Kent Wildlife Trust, urges local groups across Kent to take action against the climate and nature crises.
As world leaders gather at the COP27 global climate change conference to discuss a roadmap to climate resilience and adaptation, the people of Kent are being encouraged to sign up for the Wilder Kent Awards, a scheme which recognises and rewards those taking positive action to restore nature.
In Kent, air pollution is double the recommended WHO levels and 79% of rivers are impacted by pollution (State of Nature in Kent, 2021). The county also has the highest risk of flooding of all local authorities in England (Kent County Council). What is more, the UK government’s plans to scrap laws protecting wildlife have been labelled an ‘attack on nature’ by wildlife experts. This puts 17 wildlife havens in Kent at risk of development if they lose their stronger protections. Local people are therefore being urged to take action on the ground to tackle these environmental threats.
The Wilder Kent Awards is an opportunity for local groups to complete environmental actions under three criteria to earn their Bronze, Silver or Gold award. Actions are surprisingly simple and easy to complete. To protect wildlife, entrants could create a wildlife garden or introduce a pond onto their sites; to improve sustainability and reduce carbon footprint, groups could eliminate the use of single use plastic or use water butts to capture rainwater for use in gardens; to engage with nature, participants could run outdoor learning sessions or partner with local businesses to become more sustainable.
The awards are free to enter under several categories: nurseries, schools, colleges, universities, community groups and villages, towns and cities.
Through entering the Wilder Kent Awards, participants not only help in the fight against climate change, but also improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, enjoy new experiences and the chance to learn new skills, as well as safeguard nature now and for future generations.
Last year, over 50 groups were celebrated with a Wilder Kent Award. To enter, simply go to kwtg.uk/wilderkentawards to fill in an application form and receive an information booklet outlining the awards and a submission form. As time is running out to avoid catastrophic climate warming and global discussions are happening to agree climate mitigation and adaptation measures, Kent Wildlife Trust is calling for less talk and more action, where local efforts to protect natural spaces and restoring ecosystems are needed to set a global example.
Tom White, education officer at Kent Wildlife Trust, said: ‘These awards offer the opportunity to reflect on some of the excellent work being done in the county to change our environment for the better. Whilst the headlines around climate change are worrying, the work going on in Kent to encourage biodiversity and help us adapt to climate change is a cause for celebration.
‘It has been encouraging to see entrants over the last few years going from strength to strength with a few reaching the coveted gold standard. We are on hand to help and support entrants to the competition, so please get in touch and start your journey towards a Wilder Kent today.’