Wildbelt: The Wildlife Trusts calls for protection of low biodiversity land that is put into nature’s recovery

New land of low biodiversity that is put into nature’s recovery in England must be protected under planning laws, The Wildlife Trusts announced in response to the UK Government’s proposed planning reforms.

The conservation charity – which has called for the creation of a new designation, known as Widebelt, to support nature’s recovery – says the protection would enable new land that is currently of low biodiversity value to be designated for nature, and so speed the creation of the Nature Recovery Network to which the Government is already committed. It would for the first time, protect new land put into nature’s recovery.

Wildbelt would apply to every part of England, from rural areas to towns and cities. Such a move would secure the future of new land that The Wildlife Trusts is putting into recovery so that it can reach at least 30% of land in recovery by 2030 and address the climate and biodiversity emergency. 

The proposed protection mechanism is one of five principles that The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to commit to with regards to future planning, which would ensure the reforms can address the climate and ecological crises and people’s need for nature around them.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Protections must be strengthened, and the Government needs to take a big step towards helping nature to recover everywhere. The new planning reforms currently propose an algorithm-based system that’s dependent on non-existent data. That’s a system that will fail nature and lead to more loss.

“We’re proposing five principles to ensure the planning system helps nature and we want to see a bold new designation which will protect new land that’s put into recovery – we’re calling this Wildbelt.”

The Wildllife Trusts’ Five Principles include wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature must be put at the heart of planning reform by mapping a Nature Recovery Network;  nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and assessment of environmental impact must take place before development is permitted; people and local stakeholders must be able to engage with the planning system; and decisions must be based on up-to-date and accurate nature data.

The Wildlife Trusts respond to around 6,500 planning applications per year, and tens of thousands more are vetted and checked for impacts on wildlife. 

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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