Independent charity the Wildlife Trust is calling for all new developers to contribute to a Nature Recovery Network in bids to help reverse wildlife declines.
The government consultation into a new legal requirement that could make developers actively improve nature closed at the weekend (9th February).
It is an attempt to help wildlife recover following the severe decline of over half the UK’s wild species in the last 50 years.
The new approach, known as ‘net gain’, would ensure wildlife gets a “better deal” from new developments, meaning developers not only compensate and mitigate for any damaged caused to the natural world, they would have to measurably add to it and improve it – by creating additional new nature-friendly spaces that enable bees, butterflies, and birds to recover and thrive.
The Wildlife Trusts want developers to:
• Avoid damaging wild places by locating new buildings in the least harmful place
• Mitigate any damage that they cause and compensate if they cannot
• Be legally required to deliver ambitious, measurable gains for wildlife which are 20% above such compensation and which must be secured and managed in perpetuity
The government has yet to address net gain in the marine environment, and there has been an “explosion” of off-shore development at sea over the past decade with further swathes planned.
According to reports, this provides potential opportunities for net gain, which could contribute toward nature’s recovery at sea.
Dr Sue Young, Head of Land Use Planning and Ecological Networks at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The creation of local Nature Recovery Network maps will be critical to the success of net gain.
“These maps will show developers and decision-makers where to avoid harm to the natural environment and where to actively contribute to its recovery by identifying the opportunities where we need to join-up fragmented places which are important for wild plants and animals.
“We want to see nature put at the heart of new developments, so that new homes are great for both people and wildlife.”
She added: “There’s a huge challenge ahead – thousands of new houses are to be built, yet we need to restore the natural world.
“We’re calling on developers to build beautiful, nature-friendly communities in the right places, creating and restoring more wild places than are destroyed or damaged by building.”