We are facing an environmental and climate emergency. They are inextricably linked. Climate change is driving nature’s decline, and the loss of wildlife and wild places leaves us ill-equipped to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to change.
Nature’s recovery must be put at the heart of planning; construction and development must avoid unnecessarily damaging vital natural carbon stores, and must compensate for its impact on the natural environment.
We need to make space for nature everywhere, to help it recover but to also tackle the biggest environmental crisis we have ever faced.
Nature Recovery Networks
A Nature Recovery Network is a joined-up system of places important for wild plants and animals, on land and at sea. It allows plants, animals, seeds, nutrients and water to move from place to place and enables the natural world to adapt to change. It provides plants and animals with places to live, feed and breed. It can only do this effectively if, like our road network, it is treated as a joined-up whole.
Nature reserves and other high value wildlife areas, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Wildlife Sites, will be at the centre of the plan.
From these, we will look for opportunities to make connections to other nearby nature-rich places, linking them up along hedgerows, river banks, canal towpaths, railway lines and road verges.
This approach has been the guiding principle of our work for many years, resulting in projects such as Back to purple on The Stiperstones, which has brought about the restoration of wild heathland across much of the ridge. Similarly, in the Oswestry hills, we have worked with many local landowners to improve grassland management for wildflowers and butterflies, extending opportunities for wildlife far beyond our nature reserves.
It will involve working with many other people: farmers, local authorities, water companies, Forest England (formerly the Forestry Commission), local businesses and many individuals. Everyone can play a part in realising this ambitious vision.
We are undertaking detailed mapping to identify where and how we should focus our efforts. Large-scale maps make visible the potential for making connections between existing good habitats.
Nature Based Solutions
These come in many forms, from protecting or restoring existing ecosystems to innovative approaches and new projects that protect or enhance the natural environment. These can range from the restoration of hedgerows, rivers and peatland, to beavers and tree planting.
We are involved in several projects and initiatives to increase carbon storage.
Nature networks for people and wildlife
We all need nature: at home, at school and at work. Our strategy for nature recovery extends into the heart of our towns and villages – it’s not just about the countryside.
Active enjoyment of wild places, whether through recreation, gardening, walking or simply by finding a beautiful green space to stop and relax is vital for our health and sense of well-being. In parks, cemeteries, churchyards; in the ground surrounding places of work and in our gardens there are numerous opportunities for rewilding.
A million ways to help
Shropshire’s nature recovery will come about if we all work together to make it happen. Grassroots action will mean thousands of small projects contributing to a reinvigorated mosaic of nature. A wave of local actions makes a difference across a large area.
For example, if you were to make a hole in your fence so a hedgehog could get through and forage in your neighbour’s garden as well as yours, and if your neighbour were to do the same thing, allowing it to roam further and find other hedgehogs, you would give our prickly friends a much better chance in the future.