Norwich City Council has set out bold new proposals to improve biodiversity, outlining how ambitious targets to help nature thrive will be achieved over the next decade.
At the centre of the Biodiversity Strategy 2022 – 2032 is an enhanced commitment to “create a city where biodiversity can sustainably recover and thrive, halt species decline and increase species diversity and abundance by 2030 or sooner”. This target exceeds central government’s ambition of only halting species decline by this date. The plans will be considered for approval when the council’s cabinet meets on 16 November.
A key objective will be to establish a ‘Nature Recovery Network’, creating and connecting wild places and habitats across the city to give nature room to thrive. The network will consist of nature cores, such as existing wildlife sites, that are connected through nature corridors, with surrounding areas infilled between the hubs and corridors with smaller nature steppingstones, such as gardens and verges, allocated for new habitats.
The creation of the Nature Recovery Network will be achieved through a proactive development plan which includes an initial 'biodiversity measurement baseline and opportunities study' undertaken by qualified ecologists, innovative management techniques of parks and open spaces, enhanced conservation of natural areas, work with partners across the city, and greater expectations on housing developers to help create a place where Norwich residents, visitors and the environment can all flourish.
The strategy and development plan have been informed by external expert advice from the East of England LGA, a public consultation via an event at the Halls in November 2021, and external public consultation following the publication of the draft strategy. The council considered views from communities and individuals, as well as city councillors, subject matter experts, strategic partners and other interested parties.
Consultation revealed strong support for the draft strategy, including more than 80% of respondents agreeing that a Nature Recovery network is the best way to improve biodiversity and over 90% supporting changing land management policies to encourage habitat growth.
Read the strategy and development plan here.
Councillor Adam Giles, cabinet member with responsibility for biodiversity, said:
“This strategy puts biodiversity improvement at the heart of council policy, recognising our role as caretakers of the environment and our wider priorities to tackle the impacts of a warming climate. Our plans go further and faster than national targets, acknowledging the scale of the climate and biodiversity crises, and the need to reverse the damaging decline in wildlife by 2030.
“We also know how much residents value access to nature, so we want to encourage nature-friendly policies that benefit people and wildlife alike. However, the council can’t do this alone and everyone has a part to play - we’ll only achieve our ambitious goals to help wildlife thrive if everyone, from gardeners through to developers, works together.
“The council already has a record of enhancing biodiversity in our parks and green spaces. With this new strategy we have the blueprint needed to build on our successes and create a city where people and nature both thrive.”