“I’ve now gained an appreciation for my local environment” 

Climate change has been a known issue since the early 19th century, where greenhouse gases and various natural changes in paleoclimate became apparent. Since then, across the globe, people have tackled climate change to the best of their ability. With the hard-hitting Covid-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to focus on anything other than the wellbeing of our communities and the safety of our loved ones. However, one thing that has been majorly overlooked by society is the drastic changes Covid-19 made to our environment. Not only in our local areas but across the world.

Animals in urban areas have been spotted exploring the empty streets and untouched roads, with human inhabitants expressing warm welcomes. A delightful sighting of wild boars in Haifa, Israel left most residents pleased, due to the visible absence of humans coaxing the boars out of hiding. However, there were other residents who weren’t as pleased to see the wild boars rummaging for leftover food around the city and wanted them removed. Although boar invasions are a common occurrence in Haifa, it became all more ordinary to see them snuffling the streets during the first pandemic. It was reported that the boars would manage to cause havoc by pushing over rubbish bins and inflicting damage on properties. It may be understandable that residents wanted them gone, but it’s undeniable that due to the lack of human interactions, wild boars have been encouraged to roam the city, with sightings of them reaching a peak and becoming a normal daily occurrence.  

Amazingly, a white stork was spotted by bird watchers at Beddington Farmlands nature reserve- a species that has been extinct in the British Isles for 600 years! The white stork originally went extinct from Britain due to persecution, habitat loss and hunting but now there are usually about 20 individuals that are spotted annually across the UK.  Beddingtonn wasn't the only place to have sighted this wonderful bird. A project in Sussex, established in April, was successful in breeding a colony where the chicks hatched in the wild. This sighting of the stork, named GB35, was first spotted in Dartford however it was originally released from Poland back in 2018. Another extraordinary example of how our living environment began to grow back into its own and flourish once again with the extended absence of human interference was in Istanbul.

Countries have also set national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and focused on decreasing deforestation, as well as boosting renewable energy sources. However, this isn’t cheap and many developed countries are typically known to have higher carbon dioxide emissions per capita even though they have the resources and technologies to combat things such as pollution. An article released by the BBC news declared that the UK government committed to a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Teresa May (former Prime Minister) said “we have made huge progress in growing our economy [...] now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children”. 


As of Monday, 23rd september 2019, Sutton Council took a step to declare the ‘Climate Change Emergency’. In the released report it states that the Council would be “launching its plans for working with residents and partners towards a zero-carbon Sutton’. Its progress was said to be reported annually as part of its ‘Environment strategy”, this is useful for communities and residents in Sutton who want to educate themselves about the environment in their area and how they affect it. Councillor Manuel Abellan, Chair of Sutton Council’s Environment & Neighbourhoods Committee, said “The evidence of the impact of global warming is now undeniable. We know climate change will impact negatively on Sutton’s residents and economy [...] Government must help councils like Sutton if we are to make a real difference nationally” .

As well as this, the borough of Sutton has declared their ambition for safer and actively greener streets whilst also working hard to support active travel by making it easier and safer to travel to school via scooter or walking. This year, Sutton established a number of new measures to support pedestrians and cyclists due to the social distancing guidelines. For example, emergency measures such as Streetspace have been introduced in a number of areas to aid social distancing, as well as five Low Traffic Area schemes which aim to improve air quality and reduce non-local traffic. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, March through August there wasn’t a single article released on sutton.gov.uk involving the local environment or the impacts that it had experienced. Although the economic and social impacts are arguably at top priority, environmentally, the local areas of Sutton and Croydon were encountering changes. Even if the Council aren’t taking steps to acknowledge the flourishing local environment, lockdown has created many opportunities for the local communities to adopt this role.

Megan Harris and Grace Harris, students of Nonsuch High School, recall how they think lockdown has affected their local environment: “I could see stars for the first time” Grace observed, “it was a lot more peaceful”. Throughout lockdown, people had to take actions in order to be cautious of their local environment. Megan states that “Alot of people were walking and weren’t using their cars”. She learnt about the effects of simple things such as driving and delivery services. In order to reduce her carbon footprint, she chose to support local businesses by “buying from small UK based businesses where delivery distance wasn’t far”. Moreover, the young students claimed to “partake in multiple DIY projects as an alternative to buying new products”. As well as creating their own mini garden of “sunflowers, peppers and chillies” taking inspiration from their neighbours’ new found interest in gardening. 

Lockdown was a rough period for many, with lots of people confused about the unknown longevity of the Covid-19 pandemic. But one thing that’s clear to all, is that the environment is permanent. The UK, along with the rest of human society, owes it to future generations to act as stewards and pioneer for a healthier and flourishing environment.