Make Space for Nature

Friday 24th September 2010

The Wildlife Trusts support findings of new report

The Wildlife Trusts strongly support the findings of a new report that says delivery of nature conservation in England is in urgent need of a step-change in action, and a key starting point should be the establishment of ecological restoration zones.

The Making Space for Nature report - expected later today - will say that without seeking this step-change, the continued slow spiral loss of wildlife and habitats is inevitable - a sentiment backed by the conservation organisation.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive, was appointed to the panel behind the report, chaired by Professor Sir John Lawton. She said:

“There is growing recognition that we need to think differently about our natural environment – continuing to protect our special sites but also restoring nature and working with, not against, it. We believe that, with the right approach and public support, the Making Space for Nature report and the Natural Environment White Paper, due out in Spring 2011, can provide an ambitious vision for mapping out a recovery path for nature and the natural process which underpin it. All of which are essential to our daily lives.

“We must encourage a sense of renewed ambition in national policy if local visions are to be realised. The Government must show leadership in helping to bring about this step-change in the delivery of nature conservation for the 21st century. The road ahead will bring about many challenges but also great rewards. This is a chance to take the nature conservation agenda forward into a new and exciting era.

The Making Space for Nature report summarises the findings of the Review Group on England’s Wildlife Networks. The group was set up by the Government in September 2009 and was tasked with exploring “if the collection of sites represents a coherent and robust ecological network for England, capable of responding to the challenges of climate change and other pressures”. Over the past 12 months, the group has been looking at the ecological, economic and social costs and benefits.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that society’s future is closely linked to nature’s recovery. For example, the natural environment provides many services – improved water quality, managing inland flooding, dealing with coastal erosion and enhancing carbon storage, and so can produce significant benefits to society and the economy.

Stephanie continued: “The Wildlife Trusts recognise the value of the natural environment to people and the economy and, more specifically, the need to create an environment in which wildlife can thrive. All 47 local Wildlife Trusts are ideally placed to help deliver with their local communities and provide ‘on the ground’ experience of the challenges and potential solutions too.

“Adaptation to climate change needs to be taken as seriously as the need to reduce carbon emissions. Both are urgent and both go hand in hand. The Wildlife Trusts are already working with partners and communities on more than 100 Living Landscape schemes as part of our efforts to help wildlife adapt to climate change.”

Sir John Lawton said: “Making Space for Nature will not happen without society accepting that it is necessary, desirable and achievable. This will require strong leadership from government, and a step change in collaboration between local authorities, statutory agencies, the voluntary and private sectors, land owners and other land-managers, and individual citizens and communities. It will require education, explanation and empowerment. It won’t be easy. But it can, indeed must, be done if England’s precious wildlife is to have a future. The Wildlife Trusts will have a central role in delivering this vision.”

Story by RSWT