Lichfield District Council declares its commitment to nature recovery
Nature is facing a crisis and we are committed to do everything we can to help through our new Nature Recovery Declaration.
A thriving natural environment underpins a happy, healthy, prosperous society. However, nature is in long-term decline, with 41 per cent of wild species decreasing nationally and 15 per cent facing extinction.
We recognise that while our natural environment provides us with vital support systems declines in biodiversity are undermining its productivity and adaptability.
We also know that climate change is driving the impact on nature and taking urgent action is vital to mitigate against its effects.
Therefore, working closely with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust we have developed a Nature Recovery Declaration which has been unanimously backed by Cabinet.
It acknowledges the principles of the 2010 Lawton report which states that more space must be given to wildlife, existing wildlife spaces must be expanded and improved and the connectivity between these spaces must be increased.
To support the recovery of nature across the district we will apply and implement the new Local Nature Recovery Strategy, which will sit within the national Nature Recovery Network and underpin all planning, development and land management decisions including the Local Plan.
One target is to manage at least 30 per cent of council-owned land for the benefit of wildlife by 2030 (in line with the UK Government’s commitments) and achieve a net-gain to biodiversity across all development.
We will also improve the landscape’s resilience to climate change, employing nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to its impacts on the district including carbon storage and sequestration, managing flood risk, improving water quality and sustaining vital ecosystems.
A tree strategy will pursue a ‘right tree, right place’ approach and we will prioritise the protection of heathland habitats, focussing on restoration and increasing ecological connectivity.
Access to nature will be improved particularly in areas with high levels of physical and mental health problems and those where the amount and quality of accessible natural greenspace is below the target set by Natural England.
We are also committed to demonstrating leadership in supporting and educating businesses, communities and the wider public to take action to put nature into recovery.
Short and long-term targets will be set to reverse the decline and increase wildlife species as part of the 2050 Lichfield District Strategy with areas of focus including planning and development, land management, road networks and highways and the transformation of urban spaces.
Nature recovery will be embedded into all strategic plans, training will be given to councillors and employees about the ecological emergency and any future council policies conflicting with nature’s recovery will be highlighted.
A Cabinet member will be appointed to lead on tackling the nature crisis and a council employee appointed to coordinate our accompanying operations.
Councillor Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Ecology and Climate Change, said:
“It is essential that we take a lead in addressing the nature crisis and our Nature Recovery Declaration is an important step.
“We will continue to consider the impact of everything we do on habitats and wildlife but through a defined structure.
“The importance of our wildlife cannot be overstated and we must do all we can to ensure it survives and flourishes.”
Liz Peck, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said:
“There has never been a more important time to take action to tackle the ecological emergency.
“Much-loved wildlife like hedgehogs and water voles are vulnerable to extinction and we’ve lost 97 per cent of our wildflower meadows since the 1930s.
“We have worked closely with Lichfield District Council to develop the Nature Recovery Declaration and we’re delighted that this has been voted on unanimously.
“The Declaration demonstrates that the council recognises the nature crisis and is committing to a series of vital actions to support nature’s recovery across all its areas of work.
“It is a really positive step forward and will make a real difference on the ground for nature across Lichfield.”