Land and Nature at the Church of England’s General Synod – Post Event Update


A motion to the General Synod of the Church of England brought biodiversity up the agenda of the CoE Environmental Programme to give it the same recognition as climate change.

Read our report from General Synod here.

“The UK is one of the most nature depleted parts of the world and in order to turn that around we will need to see action to restore nature on our shores from across business, government and both the national churches and local churches. Through their churchyards, gardens, burial sites, and all other types of land, churches in the UK could play a major role in protecting biodiversity. It is exciting to see a motion on land and nature come to the synod of the Church of England, a denomination with the largest land holdings, which recognises the importance of the biodiversity crisis alongside the climate crisis.”Andy Atkins, Chief Executive, A Rocha UK

On Saturday 24 February 2024, Bishop Graham Usher presented the Land and Nature Motion to the General Synod of the Church of England. This motion aimed to give  the biodiversity crisis equal consideration to the climate crisis within the environmental work of the Church of England. It is intended to strengthen and give focus to the pre-existing goal, which came to 2020 Synod, to achieve Net Zero by 2030. It includes suggestions for actions churches and dioceses can take to use their land well for nature, including calls for churches and dioceses to engage with the ‘land’ sections of A Rocha UK’s Eco Church and Eco Diocese awards.

It also comes within the context of the UK government setting a target to protect and restore 30% of land and sea by 2030 under the Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at COP15. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted parts of the world. The most recent State of Nature report highlighted how urgently we need all sectors of society – from business, to government, to the local and national church – to be investing in nature, not only because it is a good gift from God given to us to steward and protect, but because it will be critical in helping us mitigate and adapt to climate change, and for human flourishing.

A Rocha UK at General Synod of the Church of England 

Our Head of Eco Church Helen Stephens took part in the CoE’s Synod Fringe Meeting: ‘Awesome Wonder: theology and the Land & Nature Motion’ which included an introduction by Bishop Graham Usher, a short theological talk by Dr. Ruth Valerio, Head of Global Advocacy and Influencing at Tearfund and who managed Eco Church in its early days, and a panel discussion with Ruth, Helen, and Harriet Carty, Director of Caring For God’s Acre.

You can find full details of the fringe events here

In advance of the motion, Helen said: “As climate change continues to accelerate, the loss of biodiversity – those many other species with which we share this planet – is rapidly advancing too. This motion on land and nature reflects our Christian mission to care for creation and the Church of England’s recognition that caring for nature is as important as efforts to tackle climate change. We welcome this motion. A Rocha UK is already working with the Church of England on many of the practical aspects (of this motion), such as local churches caring for their land through Eco Church, and we look forward to seeing a growing commitment towards further action in the coming years.”

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