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Hopes Suffolk Nature Summit will become a regular event at locations around the county

PUBLISHED: 13:58 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 18 June 2019

Artist ATM paints a water vole at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

Artist ATM paints a water vole at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

©johnfergusonphotography

Suffolk Wildlife Trust hails success of event aimed at sparking debate about the state of the region's natural world.

The audience at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Nature Summit Picture: John FergusonThe audience at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

A Suffolk Wildlife Trust event aimed at highlighting issues of nature conservation in the county was such a success that the charity hopes to make it "a regular occurrence".

The Trust held its first Nature Summit earlier this month at the DanceEast studio on Ipswich's Waterfront, and according to campaigns manager Kerry Stranix, the organisation now intends to hold similar events once every two years at different venues across Suffolk.

"It was a great evening. The auditorium was packed and there was lively debate throughout," said Ms Stranix.

"The Trust hopes conversations started at the Nature Summit will continue to spark ideas for action and has plans to make the event a regular occurrence."

It is hoped the event will be "biennial and spread across the county," she added.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conversation, Ben McFarland speaks at the Nature Summit Picture: John FergusonSuffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conversation, Ben McFarland speaks at the Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

READ MORE: 'It's a massive concern' - Suffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conservation reacts to decline in insect numbers

Shifting baselines

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin speaks at the Nature Summit Picture: John FergusonIpswich MP Sandy Martin speaks at the Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

The Nature Summit, held on Friday June 7, included talks, panel discussions and the opportunity for audience members to question politicians and environmentalists on a broad range of issues from agriculture to school climate strikes.

High on the agenda were topics such as marine plastics, species loss and shifting baselines, illustrated perfectly when head of conservation for the Trust, Ben McFarland, suggested to the audience that "we have forgotten what good looks like" when it comes to healthy and thriving ecosystems.

Among the speakers were Suffolk Coastal MP and Environment Minister Therese Coffey who spoke about the Government's commitment to supporting grass-roots conservation action and Ipswich MP Sandy Martin, who answered questions from the audience about the Labour motion for Government to declare a climate emergency.

Folk rockers Fishclaw play at the Nature Summit Picture: John FergusonFolk rockers Fishclaw play at the Nature Summit Picture: John Ferguson

Dr Amy-Jane Beer, contributor to Chris Packham's People's Manifesto for Wildlife spoke of issues of inclusivity in nature conservation and a panel of young environmentalists spoke candidly about their hopes and fears for the planet.

READ MORE: WATCH: Work begins on 'massive' 1,000 acre Suffolk nature reserve

Targeted action

A film showcasing local wildlife initiatives highlighted just what can be achieved when people come together to take targeted action for threatened species such as swifts and hedgehogs.

The evening concluded with a potted history of Wildlife Trust campaigns and achievements from CEO Steph Hilborne.

Ms Hilborne touched on the environmental challenges we now face as a society and how ambitious environmental legislation is a key part of addressing these challenges. She urged the audience to help secure a wilder future by adding their own voice and actions before delegates rounded off the evening with conversation and live music in the bar.

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