The Wildlife Trusts' new report Towards a wilder Britain – creating a Nature Recovery Networkshows how a Nature Recovery Network can be established by mapping out important places for wildlife which need to be protected as well as key areas where habitats should be restored. The Wildlife Trusts believe new laws are needed, including an Environment Act, to ensure this happens. Local Authorities should be required by law to produce local Nature Recovery Maps to achieve the new Government targets to increase the extent and quality of natural habitats – and turn nature's recovery from an aspiration to a reality. The report will be launched at an event for MPs in Westminster.
This comes at a critical time for wildlife. It coincides with the final week of two key government consultations which present a rare opportunity – the first in living memory – to influence the future of both national farming and planning policy and how these impact on nature in England. Precious wild places and the species that depend on them have suffered steep declines over the past 70 years; intensive farming and urbanisation have been significant causes.*
Now the public has a chance to call for change – so that planning rules, farm support and regulation work together towards the recovery of nature and wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to respond to both consultations. The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment proposes the creation of a Nature Recovery Network. To take this forward Nature Recovery Maps should be at the foundation of future farming and planning policy, guiding habitat creation by farmers and housing developers to ensure it achieves government targets for wildlife’s recovery.
Policy protection for Local Wildlife Sites – important havens for wildlife that are supposed to be recognised in planning policy – has been dropped from the draft National Planning Policy Framework. This is backward step that would undo basic protection for 42,000 of these special places for wildlife.
Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“Nature is valuable for its own sake and is the foundation of our society and of our economy. Yet we have neglected its value for too long. We need to substantially improve our farming and planning policies which are currently up for review; and we need an ambitious Environment Act that puts nature’s recovery on to a statutory footing. The only way any of this can work is if there are Nature Recovery Maps in every part of the country. This can help build the Nature Recovery Network that future generations deserve.”