To reverse the declines in biodiversity and realise nature’s recovery at scale, we need to work together and on the landscape-scale to embed the Lawton principles of Bigger, Better, More and Joined Up into our policies and strategies. This means protecting and enhancing our existing natural habitats, but also making them bigger, creating new areas of species-rich habitat, and, critically, ensuring they join up to create functional and resilient ecological networks that enable nature and people to thrive.
Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan published in January 2018 includes a commitment to “develop a Nature Recovery Network to protect and restore wildlife, and provide opportunities to re-introduce species that we have lost from our countryside.”
The West of England Nature Partnership is working to develop a regional Nature Recovery Network for the West of England, aligning with shared principles developed across the South West (by the South West Local Nature Partnerships) to ensure coherence and strengthened networks across the wider region.
We see the Nature Recovery Network as a joined up network of marine, water and terrestrial habitats where nature and people can thrive. More than a map, it is an active, adaptive spatial plan that identifies the best opportunities to deliver nature’s recovery.
Making a map is only the first step. What really counts is agreeing our ecological priorities, and developing — and then delivering — a plan to truly enable nature to recover. We support the integration of these maps and strategic approach in regional plans, strategies and programmes, including the West of England Green Infrastructure Strategy.
We see this very much as a living map. We have recently updated the water layers of the Nature Recovery Network to better reflect the challenges in improving water connectivity, providing more relevant information to inform strategic-level decision making to help improve the water environment. This was done in coordination with the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, drawing on their expertise in the water environment.
New mapping tools are being developed at the national level, and it is likely that we will see standard principles for mapping Nature Recovery Networks emerge. We strongly support this, because we need standard approaches to ensure network maps knit together properly, and because we are more effective when we work together at scale. WENP are actively involved in contributing to these national methodologies as opportunities emerge. We also acknowledge more work is needed to define measurable targets against the ambitions.
We welcome views on this proposed Nature Recovery Network. Get in touch at [email protected].
Please note that the Water Nature Recovery Network update supersedes the information contained in the methodology document relating to wetlands