Guest post – A Nature Recovery Network for the West of England

Heather Elgar, West of England Nature Partnership

The recently published International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) Global Assessment paints a harrowing picture of the state of nature[i]. Up to one million species are at risk of extinction. We’ve lost 85% of our wetlands. 3/4 of our landmass has been severely altered by human activity, leading to a huge 47% decline in the extent and condition of natural habitats.

The sheer scale of loss is a tragedy in itself, but these trends also speak to the ill-health of our world’s very life support systems. We rely on the healthy functioning of our natural world – from pollination to healthy soils for our food, to plentiful and clean water, filtered air, a regulated climate, carbon storage, nutrient recycling, and the natural resources that underlie our global supply chains.

The global picture is overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine what these trends mean here, in the West of England. We need a plan for nature’s recovery.

The West of England Nature Partnership has been working with local, regional and national partners to work out what a Nature Recovery Network might look like for the West of England. This follows Government’s commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan[ii] to establish a Nature Recovery Network for England.

We know that nature’s systems are stronger, healthier and more resilient to a changing climate when spaces for nature are Bigger, Better, More and Jointed Up[iii]. For us, the Nature Recovery Network is a joined-up network of marine and terrestrial habitats where nature (and people) can thrive in a changing world. More than a map, it is an active, adaptive spatial plan that identifies the best opportunities for nature’s recovery. It will identify the strategic ecological and hydrological networks that we need to protect and enhance, and our best opportunities to create and enhance spaces for nature. We’re also working to identify where our ecological game-changers are – and we then need plans, and a shared voice, to action them.

Everyone has a role in nature’s recovery, which will underpin our adaptation and resilience to a changing climate. Businesses, investors, planners, policy makers, educators, landowners, NGOs, every single one of us – has a deep interest in doing what we can to help nature recover. We depend on it.

We’ll launch the first version of a Nature Recovery Network for the West of England at our 2019 Forum at the Arnolfini, Bristol on 6th June. We will explore and debate how to best realise nature’s recovery by integrating nature’s value in policies and strategies, the intersection of nature, public health and social inequalities, the importance of well-planned green infrastructure and the role everyone can play in realising nature’s recovery.

Join us – tickets are free but limited. Click here to book your space 

The West of England Nature Partnership is a cross-sector partnership working to restore the natural environment in the West of England through embedding the value of nature in decision making across spatial planning, public health and economic development. We believe that a healthy natural environment underpins a healthy society and economy. Find out more at www.wenp.org.uk

[i] https://www.ipbes.net

[ii] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan

[iii] Key principles from Sir John Lawton’s 2010 Government-commissioned review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological network: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130402170324/http:/archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/biodiversity/documents/201009space-for-nature.pdf