The conservation organisation makes this statement ahead of a public consultation - expected to be announced today - and sets out its recovery plans for the UK’s wildlife and fragmented habitats.
The Wildlife Trusts believe the time is now for the Government to establish a vision for the restoration of the natural environment which will help society achieve its ambitions for nature.
With scant existing legislation to encourage the restoration of the natural environment or the creation of new habitats on a significant scale, The Wildlife Trusts are looking for the Government to deliver real improvements.
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "This White Paper is potentially as meaningful as the build-up to the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Back then we were reconstructing a nation and, although money was very short, nature was seen as a key part of our future."
In the 1940s, The Wildlife Trusts’ founders successfully pressed for laws to protect some of the most special habitats but these were emergency measures. They were refuges from which it was always hoped nature would re-emerge. Outside these places habitats were lost on an unprecedented scale. Since then more than 95% of wildflower meadows have disappeared and 90% of heathland too. As demand for land for agriculture, housing and development increased, so space for wildlife and natural processes decreased.
Over the past 15 years, The Wildlife Trusts have been working with local people, businesses, organisations and authorities at a landscape-scale. Every Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscape. Ahead of the recent election, The Wildlife Trusts lobbied for the new Government to introduce a White Paper on Restoring Nature so it reflected the needs now facing society by taking responsibility for this critical issue.
To ensure The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for A Living Landscape can be achieved in our lifetime, the conservation organisation sets out what it believes needs to be the fundamental framework for the White Paper for Nature. It should:
- Set out a new vision - be ambitious about the restoration and recovery of the natural environment and all the systems which underpin it
- Protect and enlarge ‘core’ wildlife-rich areas - value and conserve existing protected places such as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which lie at the heart of this new era for nature conservation. They cannot be allowed to be traded in or to erode
- Put wildlife back on the map - map out priority areas for ecological restoration. To create connections between core areas in the form of corridors and stepping stones to provide both functional and physical connectivity got wildlife across a landscape
- Give wildlife room to manoeuvre - set out policies and incentives which allow the protection and value of areas already rich in wildlife. Expand and buffer these areas and make the wider landscape more permeable
- Restore natural processes - such as flood protection, carbon absorption, crop pollination and water filtration, so they can operate to their full potential for people and wildlife. All are fundamental to our health, well-being and a successful economy
- Ensure there is wildlife everywhere - inspire every community to develop local solutions to the particular challenges for restoring nature in their area
- Inspire a new type of partnership - act together with central and local government, agencies, the private sector and voluntary bodies to inspire and enable cross-boundary co-operation. And support the voluntary sector in its delivery
Speaking about the potential for positive change, Stephanie Hilborne added: "The Wildlife Trusts believe the time is now for the Government to help society achieve its ambitions for nature by taking a look at the legislation, policies and funding mechanisms needed to restore wildlife on a landscape-scale.
"Nature is not a luxury. With the UK facing unprecedented economic uncertainty and pressures for energy generation, food production and housing, there is a risk we overlook the very basis of our economy and our society; the natural environment upon which this all depends."
The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust recognises the importance of a landscape scale view and works closely with partners to promote large scale habitat management and restoration. There is a county-wide commitment from the Lincolnshire Assembly (representing everyone in Lincolnshire) to make our countryside, coastline and towns richer in biodiversity by 2030. We are hoping that this White Paper will help us all make this happen.
Visit our Living Landscape pages to find out more about to find out more about Living Landscapes in Lincolnshire.