Help shape nature recovery in the West of England
15th March 2023
Stuart Gardner is Nature Recovery Manager for Bath & North East Somerset Council, and is responsible for managing the development of the West of England Local Nature Recovery Strategy. Previously the manager of the West of England Nature Partnership, Stuart is experienced in partnership working on the natural environment and is keen to ensure the Local Nature Recovery Strategy is developed in collaboration with stakeholders across the area. He outlines how organisations can get involved and help shape the strategy in the blog post below.
A West of England Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) is currently being developed to coordinate efforts to restore nature across the region, as required by legislation. The aim is to have this important strategy in place by spring 2024, and the team behind it are seeking to collaborate with a range of stakeholders, including businesses.
Why is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy needed?
Nature is collapsing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Globally we have lost 60% of wild vertebrates and up to 76% of insects since 1970. And in the West of England, numbers of once common birds like swifts and cuckoos have dropped by more than 96%.
The decline in nature matters to all of us because of the vital role that wildlife and nature play in supporting our wellbeing, society and economy. Nature provides the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and many of the resources we need to survive and maintain our quality of life.
Reversing this decline will require a coordinated effort across society, as well as an improved understanding of the most important actions for nature recovery and how these can be delivered.
The West of England Local Nature Recovery Strategy will identify desired outcomes for nature recovery in the region, including those considered to be ‘priorities’, and potential measures to deliver them. Ultimately, we see the LNRS as being the guiding strategy for nature in the region, enabling collective effort to be focussed where it will have most benefit.
What is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy?
Local Nature Recovery Strategies are ‘a new, England-wide system of spatial strategies that will establish priorities and map proposals for specific actions to drive nature’s recovery and provide wider environmental benefits’, as set out by Government in the Environment Act 2022.
As well as having a role in the planning system and directing public funding for nature recovery, LNRSs will inform the delivery of ‘nature-based solutions’ for outcomes such as flood management, carbon sequestration and improvements in water quality.
There will be a single LNRS for the West of England which will cover the unitary authority areas of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. In total, there will be around 50 LNRSs, covering the whole of England; joined together, the aim is that they will support delivery of a national Nature Recovery Network.
Why is this important for businesses?
As outlined in a previous Partnership blog on nature-based solutions, more businesses are recognising the benefits of investing in nature for outcomes such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, reducing flood risk, and even improving employees’ wellbeing and productivity. It’s also important for business to be able to invest in the environment on their doorstep, strengthening links within the communities of which they are part.
However, it isn’t always clear where the best places to invest in nature are, what outcomes could be achieved through investing in the local environment, and even how businesses can invest in nature.
Our aim is for the LNRS to make it easier for businesses to know how and where they can help achieve the best outcomes for nature. This will facilitate greater investment in the West of England’s natural environment and, ultimately, better outcomes for businesses, society and nature.
How can I find out more and get involved?
We are keen to make the development of the West of England LNRS a collaborative a process as possible, recognising that the more stakeholders have an opportunity to shape its development, the greater the chance we will achieve the right outcomes.
Specifically, we want the outcomes identified in the West of England LNRS to be informed by businesses’ priorities for investing in nature. We would also like businesses to help us shape a ‘how to’ guide that sets out how the sector can take to invest in or support the region’s nature.
We are holding a webinar on the West of England LNRS and businesses on 26 April, where you can find out more about the LNRS and how your organisation can get involved – reserve your place here. In the meantime, you can contact the LNRS Project Manager, Stuart Gardner, at email@example.com.