In recent years, an increasing number of influential scientists have suggested that we reserve half of our planet for protecting nature to make Earth more liveable. In England, a huge conservation project aims to contribute to that goal by turning 99,000 hectares of land into nature reserves.
The initiative consists of five large-scale projects in the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk, and Somerset. The overall aim is to boost biodiversity, tackle the climate crisis, and expand public access to nature.
Boosting biodiversity and sequestering carbon
The first round of funding of about £2.4m will come from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Natural England. The money will go into the creation of new habitats, the management of land for nature and carbon storage, as well as the expansion of footpaths to connect communities living next to natural landscapes.
Over time, the nature recovery schemes are expected to extend across 99,200 hectares of land (245,000 acres) — which is about the same as the total area covered by current national nature reserves, reports The Guardian.
Improving public access to nature
The nature recovery activities will be wide-ranging, from restoring dew ponds and connecting fragmented heathlands and wetlands to working together with local landowners for habitat creation and enhancing carbon storage. The projects will also focus on boosting green tourism, as well as working with communities in marginalized areas to improve their access to nature, such as expanding footpaths and bridleways.
“These five projects across England are superb examples of exciting, large-scale restoration that is critically needed to bring about a step-change in the recovery of nature in this country,” said environment ministry Rebecca Pow. “They will significantly contribute to achieving our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030 and our commitment to protect 30 percent of our land by 2030, enabling us to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”
“Nature recovery can only occur if we take action at scale, and that can only work through partnerships,” added Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England. “These five landmark projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of landowners and organisations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, adaptation to climate change and for public wellbeing.”