In 2024 there will almost certainly be a general election - possibly the most important of our lives, and certainly a critical time for wildlife.

The next government, whichever political party it may be, will either be responsible for the turnaround or failure for nature and climate which affects all of us.

Nature is important to all of us in so many different ways. Some are worried about flooding in their area or the loss of precious species of wildlife. Others want clean rivers to swim in, or to fish from.

Nature could be vital to you as a farmer, or because you draw your living from the land. Perhaps you like to walk, run, climb or ride in a landscape that is thriving.

Or maybe there is a specific place, important and significant to you, that desperately needs restoration or protection to ensure it exists and prospers for generations to come.

Whatever your connection to nature, or your worries and concerns, now is the time and opportunity to have your say and have your voice heard.

Great British Life: Keeping our waterways clean is a key priority to many Keeping our waterways clean is a key priority to many (Image: Ashley Franklin)

A local voice for nature

To ensure there is a strong and diverse voice for nature during the 2024 general election, a new initiative has been launched to support local people in deciding their own nature priorities and holding elected MPs to account for their delivery. Ben Carter, director of development at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust explains more.

‘We know that the nature and climate crisis is a high priority for voters, with the majority of people supporting government action for nature now,’ says Ben.

‘But different issues will hold different weight with different communities, making it vital that the voice for nature is both loud and diverse, and that it represents the many different ways that people value and rely on the natural world.

‘That’s why we have partnered with the British Mountaineering Council, Down to Earth, Rural Action Derbyshire, CPRE and the Woodland Trust to start the Neighbourhood Nature Plan. Our aim is to help people hold their own Neighbourhood Nature Forums where they can decide on local priorities and effectively campaign for these ahead of the general election.’

Great British Life: Your chance to get involved Your chance to get involved (Image: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Meet up and make a difference

‘Neighbourhood Nature Forums can be at any scale, from a citizen’s assembly in a local hall, to a talk amongst friends round a kitchen table,’ continues Ben.

‘But using direct support from us and a toolkit which we have designed specifically for this initiative, we hope to enable local people and groups to bring people together, publish their priorities, and advocate for pledges from candidates.’

The toolkit includes advice and checklists to help run meetings effectively, from setting agendas and talking points, to note taking and creating action plans.

There’s also ideas and suggestions on how to promote meetings and reach a larger audience, with tips on event booking sites, downloadable posters and social media content.

‘Now is a critical time for wildlife and natural ecosystems,’ says Ben. ‘This means that the next general election is one of the most important of our times. The next government must turn the tide on the nature and climate crisis. If they fail then the natural world, including all of us, will undoubtedly suffer.

‘This is a great opportunity for people across all communities here in Derbyshire to speak up for nature and connect with others in their community to make a truly lasting difference for wildlife both locally and globally.

‘Whatever your connection to nature may be, or your worries and concerns, the Neighbourhood Nature Plan is your chance to have your say and to join your voice with thousands of others across Derbyshire. We are very excited to see all the amazing things people can achieve.’

‘The importance of nature to the communities we work with is integral to the fabric of a positive impactful society, not just for nature but for people too,’ adds Jamie Quince-Starkey, founder of Down To Earth CIC, a not for profit Derby-based community interest company which empowers others to create collective purpose through nature.

‘Empowering and inspiring people to become the change makers of the places they live, work and play in - this is the importance of nature in our everyday lives, and it can help us change the world.’

The partnership hopes that through this initiative all prospective MPs in Derbyshire will be made aware of and support the nature priorities of their constituents, and for those MPs elected to meet a least one Neighbourhood Nature Forum within a year of their election to discuss delivery.

Find out how to set up your own Neighbourhood Nature Forum or find and join your local group by visiting