Local Sites: Critical to Nature Recovery

 

As a wildlife enthusiast or local naturalist who wants to help to protect and assist in the enhancement of biodiversity then biological recording [especially when linked to the Local Sites process] is one of the most effective ways to have a positive impact for genuinly important sites. Often changing things for the better before a site is allocated for another purpose.

 

There are more Local Wildlife Sites in England than any other kind of terrestrial wildlife designation. They exist equally in our most rural and urban areas and unlike Local Nature Reserves they are designated purely on their importance for biodiversity and exist on the basis that they protect what is most important in the local area as such they are vitally important to identifying and protecting our most important areas for biodiversity.

While Local Wildlife Sites are not directly protected by law (as is the case of 'statutory' designated sites such as Local Nature Reserves and SSSI's) they are recognised through local Partnership's made up of a wide range of stakeholders and are adopted into the Local Plan of a Local Authority as part of their Biodiversity Duty1. Any public authority must also recognise their importance2, in line with this legal duty, as part of their decision taking. Local Authorities must also report on the status and condition of their Local Sites to DEFRA on an annual basis3.

In Merseyside Local Sites form core parts of the evidence that supports City Region strategy to protect and enhance the natural environment, such as targeting enhancement through Nature Improvement Areas. They have been fully integrated into the Regions Ecological Network4 Core Biodiversity Areas which represent the Regions best 'natural assets' and will underpin upcoming strategies around Nature Recovery and Biodiversity Net Gain to be delivered under the new Environment Bill5.

As the Local Sites system is evidence led. Biological recording plays a vital part in the identification of these, our best sites for biodiversity. To be adopted any site must meet criteria set by the Partnership and designed to demonstrate stand out importance for biodiversity in the landscape of North Merseyside.

As a wildlife enthusiast or local naturalist who wants to help to protect and assist in the enhancement of biodiversity then biological recording is one of the most effective ways to have a positive impact. Often changing things for the better before a site is allocated for another purpose.

By Ben Deed

1Biodiversity duty: public authority duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/biodiversity-duty-public-authority-duty-to-have-regard-to-conserving-biodiversity

2Protected sites and areas: how to review planning applications: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/protected-sites-and-areas-how-to-review-planning-applications

3Single Data List - local sites in positive conservation management: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/local-sites-in-positive-conservation-management--2

4Liverpool City Region Ecological Network: http://www.lcreconet.uk/

5Environment Bill: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2593