Staffordshire Wildlife Trust presents recommendations to address nature crisis over next 20 years in Stoke-on-Trent

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust presents recommendations to address nature crisis over next 20 years in Stoke-on-Trent

The county’s leading conservation charity has outlined key actions that need to be taken to halt the decline of nature and ensure a thriving network of wildlife-rich green spaces in Stoke-on-Trent over the next two decades.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, which is supported by 18,000 members across the county, has contributed to a consultation on Stoke’s Local Plan, which is gathering views on how the city should grow and develop over the next 20 years.

In its response, the Trust has recommended that the following actions are taken to help nature recover, ensure green spaces are protected and fight the climate emergency in Stoke-on-Trent:

·        Nature Recovery Network (NRN) mapping should be undertaken in Stoke-on-Trent. A NRN map highlights existing ecology hotspots and corridors, and shows areas where habitat has the potential to be improved further or connected to support greater biodiversity. A NRN map would help the council to make informed strategic decisions about development and growth while conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Within Staffordshire, seven out of 10 district local authorities have now commissioned NRN maps.

·        Ensure ecological data for the city is up-to-date. This includes identifying Local Wildlife Sites, irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland, and priority habitats like ponds and brownfield sites of high environmental value. The Trust highlights that much of Stoke’s green areas have not been fully assessed for their value. For example, Berryhill Fields is one of the largest open green areas in the city, but only about a quarter has any wildlife designation currently, and less than half is officially green space. Its full value and role in the network is not accurately reflected, as significant populations of protected and priority species such as birds and amphibians have not been considered.

·        The production of a Green Infrastructure Strategy, to ensure environmental actions are delivered strategically for multiple benefits, and review and update the city’s climate change policies. The Trust recommends that nature-based solutions, such as natural flood management and urban tree planting be employed to make the city resilient to the impacts of climate change and help sequester more carbon.

The Trust’s Head of Nature Recovery Networks, David Cadman, said: “In addition to the climate emergency, we are facing a biodiversity crisis, with many wild species facing huge declines or even extinction due to threats to their habitats and habitat fragmentation.

“Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is keen to work with partners to improve the habitat quality across the city’s greenspace network. The Trust is currently working with the council on the ERDF SUNRISE project and this has already delivered huge benefits to the city including river restoration, new wildflower meadows and improvements to woodlands.

“As well as addressing the crisis facing our natural world, the management of greenspaces to benefit biodiversity will bring a host of other benefits to the city including flood reduction, air quality improvements and increased carbon sequestration.”

You can view the Trust’s full response to the Local Plan ‘Issues and Options’ Consultation at  www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/stoke-trent-and-urban-newcastle. The consultation asks for views on a variety of topics relating to the development of Stoke-on-Trent over the next 20 years, including how green spaces are managed and how biodiversity is conserved. The consultation is open until June 21 2021 and the Trust is urging nature lovers to register their views to reinforce the importance of the natural environment to local residents.

Image by Paul Hobson

Editor’s Notes

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, is the leading nature conservation body in the County. It protects and enhances our wildlife and wild places and promotes involvement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural world.  With the support of over 18,000 members, it manages 30 sites covering over 4,018 acres including sites of international, European and national importance. As part of The Wildlife Trusts, the Trust is the local face of the largest organisation in the UK concerned with the conservation of all forms of wildlife.

European Regional Development Fund

The ERDF SUNRISE project has received £2.1m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.