Five landmark nature restoration projects launched to protect wildlife and improve public access to nature

Five unique nature reclamation projects covering almost 100,000 hectares will transform public enjoyment of nature in the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset, announced today (Thursday 26 May) the government and Natural England.

These multi-partner projects will see newly created and restored wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping stones that will help wildlife populations move and thrive across city and countryside.

They will improve the landscape’s resilience to climate change, providing natural solutions to reduce carbon and manage flood risks. Equivalent in size to the current 219 National Nature Reserves, they will also allow more people to enjoy nature and connect with it at their doorstep.

The Purple Horizons project in Walsall in the West Midlands alone will connect over 500,000 people with nature close to where they live, in one of England’s most socially deprived areas.

The five projects will also make a significant contribution to national achievement of the international commitment to protect at least 30% of land and seas by 2030, and contribute to achieving the legally binding Environmental Law target of halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. .

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

These five projects across England are stunning examples of the exciting large-scale restoration that is needed to bring about a step change in nature recovery in this country.

They will make a significant contribution to achieving our goal to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030 and our commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030, allowing us to leave the environment in better condition than we found it.

Natural England Chairman Tony Juniper said:

Nature’s recovery can only happen if we take action at scale, and it can only work through partnerships. These five flagship projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration between a wide range of landowners and organizations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, climate change adaptation and well-being. audience.

Caring for and restoring the health of the natural world on which we all depend is at the heart of Natural England’s work, not least through the development of the Nature Recovery Network which is such an important part of the government’s environmental ambition. I am delighted that we are taking this step today, taking concrete action on what is one of the most pressing challenges of modern times.

Joan Edwards, Director of Policy at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

It is good to see the government’s positive ambition to help people access nature close to home, as well as efforts to connect existing strongholds for wildlife. Species desperately need green corridors to connect fragmented habitats in addition to big, bold projects that allow landscapes to recover at scale.

Wildlife has suffered catastrophic declines in recent decades and 15% of species in the UK are threatened with extinction. Government can help turn the tide by accelerating the creation of a Nature Recovery Network, dedicating more land to nature, and enforcing stronger protections for our most important sites.

The areas of the nature reclamation project are:

  • Purple Horizons, West Midlands – spanning 10,000 hectares on the outskirts of the West Midlands conurbation, Purple Horizons restores and connects fragmented moorland of national and international importance to create a mosaic of moorland, wetlands, woodlands and grasslands, vital for recovery and long term. long-term resilience of reptiles, birds and pollinators in the region.

  • Cambridge Nature Network, Cambridgeshire – covering 9,200 people in and around the city of Cambridge, linking the city center with the rural countryside through a range of priority habitats and landscapes including chalk grassland, bog and woodland old.

  • Wye Valley, Peak District – covering 10,000 hectares, the project is carrying out pioneering research into how an investment model can be created to generate funds for restoration and habitat creation, delivering multiple benefits for restoration of nature.

  • Somerset Wetlands, Somerset – with the new 6,140 hectare National Super Nature Reserve at its heart, Somerset Wetlands is working with local partners and landowners on 60,000 hectares to enhance nature recovery through the creation of habitats and by investing in strategic solutions that make wetlands more sustainable and the landscape more resilient to climate change.

  • Wendling Beck, Norfolk – The Wendling Partnership has come together to embark on an ambitious and inspiring nature restoration project linking initiatives around the Upper Wensum River and 10,000 hectares in the surrounding agricultural countryside of central Norfolk.

Initial funding of £2.4m is being provided by Defra and Natural England, as part of the flagship Nature Recovery Network (NRN) funding which aims to augment, enhance and connect existing wildlife-rich sites and to restore and connect degraded lands, transforming them into healthy functioning ecosystems, rich in wildlife and resilient to climate change, which provide us with clean air, water and healthy soil.

The nature restoration projects announced today will also include improved trails, bridleways and green infrastructure that will connect nature to where people live, work and play, benefiting physical health and to mental well-being and will provide the creation of habitats that support the deployment of net biodiversity gain. , demonstrating how public and private funding can support nature’s recovery.

Today’s announcement follows last week’s declaration of the new ‘super’ Somerset Wetlands National Nature Reserve (NNR by Natural England, which will protect 6,140 hectares of valuable salt marsh habitat, heathland and wetlands that support nationally significant wildlife populations.

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