This new Biodiversity Strategy 2022-2032 (hereafter ‘the Strategy’) and its associated Biodiversity Development Plan (hereafter ‘the Plan’) set out the council’s comprehensive and ambitious response to redress the Biodiversity Emergency it declared in 2019, as well as delivering on the 2040 City Vision commitment of ‘Protecting and maintaining our green and open spaces to improve biodiversity’.
The strategy is premised on a new biodiversity policy statement, which is to ‘create a city where biodiversity can sustainably recover and thrive, halt species decline and increase species diversity and abundance by 2030 or sooner’, affirming the council’s commitment to lead and coordinate nature recovery in the city. By aligning the council’s own operations and collaborating with organisations responsible for significant nature assets and other interested parties (including Norwich businesses, institutions, VSCEs and residents), a new Nature Recovery Network (NRN) will be developed across the city.
The main objective is for the NRN to be significantly complete, to halt species decline and increase species diversity and abundance by 2030. The development of the NRN will be guided by the principles of the Lawton Report, to identify, create, protect, connect and enhance diverse blue1 and green natural assets.
The NRN will comprise nature cores, such as existing wildlife sites and parkland, connected by nature corridors which may take the form of designated streets, green spaces on and around buildings, and highway verges. Opportunities to create stepping stones within the network will be sought in the form of smaller green spaces in the built environment, such as residents’ gardens, on a voluntary basis.
Other objectives exist around climate change mitigation and adaption, health and wellbeing, educational benefits, food production, visitor experience, and the growth of the green economy.
The strategy acknowledges the need to successfully integrate with the national NRN2 and other local strategies and plans, as well as being evidence based with measurable outcomes. Management, assurance and reporting will be provided by a new Biodiversity Working Group comprising officers of the council.
The Biodiversity Working Group is responsible for delivering the plan, which sets out in a separate document, interdependent tasks categorised according to a series of thematic workstreams. The plan is based on a three-year ahead rolling horizon, with engagement, planning and integration tasks notionally being undertaken during 2023, and implementation of natural asset development tasks from 2024 onwards.
1 Pertaining to surface water assets such as ponds, broads, rivers and streams
2 A requirement of the Environment Act 2021