Imagine a world where there are nature rich spaces, open and accessible to everybody, within a mile from everybody’s homes. The things that give our landscapes character and sense of place, such as dry-stone walls of the Yorkshire Dales, the hedgerows of the midland shires, or the parks and street trees in our towns and cities, are intact and flourishing. Businesses of all types, including farms, are drawing value and earning an income from natural assets, be that being paid for the value that pollinators bring to the food chain, or being able to run wildlife tourism businesses. Wetlands act as natural flood plains soaking up water and protecting settlements down-stream from damage. Plants and animals that we now consider rare or threatened are flourishing - not just in nature reserves but living alongside us as part of our day to day lives. Our cities are surrounded by trees that not only soak up carbon but provide green spaces for recreation and green routes for travel.
We don’t have to just imagine this: we can make this happen if we work together. Our NRN case study video gives a sense of work already underway.
Why is this important?
Conservation of nature reserves - pockets of land that are often remnants of the best of our wildlife and habitats - have simply not been enough for nature to thrive and meet the needs of society. A new, integrated approach is needed that brings together funding, laws and people to deliver the national Nature Recovery Network – a major commitment in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
The Nature Recovery Network (NRN) will be a network of wildlife-rich places, stretching across the country, from doorstep to landscape, connected through wildlife corridors and stepping-stones that help threatened species to move and recover. It will help provide nature-based solutions that make our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change by supporting carbon storage and flood management. It will provide us with clean, air, water and healthy soil, benefiting food security. It will provide a sense of place, giving us all access to natural green space where we live, work and play, benefiting our health and wellbeing and supporting a green recovery.
This is the first time that we have moved from conservation into active restoration of the natural world. It is the first time nature recovery has been directly supported by over £650m government funding (for example via the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Nature for Climate Fund and the Nature Recovery Fund). It’s the first time land management policy has been aligned to support nature recovery (e.g. the new Environmental Land Management Scheme) and the first time that development has been required to make nature better (when the plans for biodiversity net gain become law in the Environment Bill). And it’s the first time nature recovery will be underpinned by new laws that run through the Environment Bill (via a new legally binding target for biodiversity, the need for all areas to have Local Nature Recovery Strategies, and the ability for landowners to set up voluntary conservation covenants).
The Nature Recovery Network Delivery Partnership
It’s because of all of the above firsts that Natural England has for the first time set up a formal partnership for nature recovery, involving diverse cross-sectoral organisations, recognising that together we are greater than the sum of our parts. On Thursday 5 November we launched the NRN Delivery Partnership, a new cross-sectoral collaboration of government, conservationists, businesses, farmers and landowners, all committed to taking action: from Coca Cola to the National Trust; from Network Rail to the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The launch of the partnership is a call to action for all of us to be part of tackling three of the biggest challenges we face: biodiversity loss, climate change, and health. The launch committed us to:
- Think creatively and use the new laws now available to us to have the biggest impact possible;
- To work across England with a Nature Recovery Network covering town and country and land and sea;
- To blend our knowledge, skills and resources, including £s so that public, private and charity assets can be joined together.
The partnership is led by Natural England supported by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission and a core partnership management group representing over 600 organisations who have agreed to join forces to deliver the NRN. And the call to action made on the day means over 400 more organisations have expressed an interest in joining us.
This is where we stop saying ‘if we can’ and start planning ‘how we will’ to ensure a greener, healthier and wilder natural environment for future generations.
The moment to act is now. Please join us.