A scorching hot summer ... but what does this mean? Philippa Reece

These last few months have been hard. Very hard both work pressure wise as well as emotionally.

For years, as a parks and open spaces manager I have witnessed the change in our natural world. Seasons moving. Our seasonal work in the winter getting shorter. Nesting season expanding. Spring growth starting and then dying back as a cold snap kills new growth and the damage to that all year being seen on our landscapes.
This year however has been a totally different ball game all together that has left me shell-shocked, deeply saddened and quite fearful.
Here are some of the experiences from this summer.
It’s been hot. Very hot as we all know and with that has brought droves of people to the coast for sea breeze and being able to cool down in the sea. With people comes extra pressure on day to day delivery and in a tourism town you can upscale that significantly.
We then get a bit of rain and our coast line is filled with sewage dumped into our ocean – that people are then still coming to swim in. The impact to our health should be a grave concern but to see the impact on our natural world is beyond devastating.
Add into this factor bird flu and it migrating into coastal birds for the first time and the scale of dead birds along our shores to remove sometimes on a daily basis.
The drive of planting new trees over the last few years has been significant with the ask with the need to store carbon,  clean our air and provide that much needed shade for us as we heat up. Never mind in the fact that it provides much needed habitat spaces.
We usually need to care for our trees with watering for 3 years. This year however with the heat, trees that are 4 and 5 years growth have also needed that extra watering. Literally thousands of trees and whips extra needing attention and love. I also need to point out that with the ground being so dry and hard,  the time it is taking for us to water each tree has significantly expanded as well.
Last but by no means least the condition of our lake and local rivers. Local river heated up by 10 degrees. Yes you read that right, 10 degrees. The fish trying to survive in that river were not doing well  at all and what options do you have to help them all?
Lakes and rivers with significant drops in oxygen levels with hundreds of fish in the lake and washing down the river dead.
Fires across our landscapes, destroying entire landscapes, habits and rare species. So much so that disposable bbqs were taken off shelves in stores with pleas from fire services across the country. London being at its busiest since the 2nd World War!
Our fire was cause by litter left on the floor with the sun being magnified by glass.
Put all this into the mix at the same time with the same level of resource that you had before all of this and what are you left with?
This is the first time I have witnessed this level of climate collapse within our day to day working environment at this scale.
No additional funding for parks across the UK to enable a response that is desperately needed in our day to day operational world and the emotional toil is evident on the whole team.
Our natural world is failing in front of us and we don’t have the ability to love it, care for it, help it, respond to its needs.
Things need to change and rapidly if we are to enable our landscapes to adapt and survive. To put mitigation measures in place and give us all a chance.
We must change our behaviours. The way we engage, interact, understand and value our environment as well as taking responsibility for it and our actions.
I for one still need time to reflect. To think about what we have just gone through and what means to us all as well as time to physically recover for the team as ‘all hands on deck’ is not sustainable for that length of time.
Please water your local trees you see struggling. Please put your litter in the bin and pick up litter as you walk past it that others have discarded.
We all need to play our part and take responsibility for what is happening all around us.