YOU may have recently seen mention of the publication of a new report on biodiversity, principally written by Professor Dasgupta and called the Dasgupta report, writes Giles Archibald, leader of South Lakeland District Council.

It is a stunning wake-up call. As I have previously mentioned, we need nature to provide us with our fresh water, fresh air, wonderful landscapes and opportunities for recreation. In addition, nature delivers the nutrient cycles, food, medicines and climate regulation that is critical to our current human existence.

The report catalogues the systemic failure to protect our environment. It confirms we are using Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rate. It indicates we have experienced a decline in what the report calls the natural capital per person of some 40 per cent between 1992 and 2014. Species are declining at an alarming and unprecedented rate.

Indeed, Cumbria is seeing the migration and endangerment of some butterfly species, the natterjack toad, the Arctic char and the common scoter.

This is a failure of institutions, including all levels of government. We cannot allow this to continue, and the Dasgupta report is a welcome reminder that we all have a responsibility to protect nature.

This presents us in south Cumbria with an opportunity to provide much-needed leadership. We have the natural assets all around us. We must take this responsibility seriously.

Global warming and biodiversity loss will impact our beautiful lakes, our forests, our peat reserves, several species and their montane habitat. However, we have the potential to contribute to the reversal of biodiversity loss by an extensive planting of trees and bushes, by wildflower planting, by controlling invasive species, by careful management of our peat and ruminant livestock, by employing our rivers, tides and winds to generate green energy, and by promoting solar energy.

Preserving the environment is one of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about the potential for joining with Barrow and Lancaster to form a Morecambe Bay unitary authority. Morecambe Bay is a unique ecosystem with some 30 nature reserves. Combining it with the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and with parts of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks gives us an opportunity to build a very special environment.

Through its management we can provide effective leadership in the fight back against biodiversity loss.