A prominent Coniston businessman has welcomed an initiative by the government which has named Cumbria as one of five counties to benefit from a slice of £1m to test how the recovery of England’s landscapes and wildlife can be driven locally.
Cumbria has been chosen as a pilot area alongside Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester and Northumberland for the scheme, which aims to help kick-start nature recovery on a countrywide scale.
Cumbria will receive a share of the funding to set up ‘Local Nature Recovery Strategies’ (LNRS), with the owner of Coppermines Lakes Cottages Phil Johnston hoping existing conservation areas in the South Lakes will feel the benefits.
Mr Johnston, who set up a 65 acre conservation area in 2018, says one of the most important aspects is to ensure animals are prevented from grazing on conservation area land, by ensuring boundaries like fences and hedges are properly repaired and maintained.
He says, “In a perfect world, I’d love to see the funding made available by January, so we can plant new trees and shrubs in time to see some encouraging growth by Easter. At the moment, it is not clear which areas of Cumbria will benefit, but it makes sense to direct cash towards both new and existing conservation areas like the one we have in the Coppermines Valley. The LNRS pilot studies are designed to help identify the most valuable sites and habitats for wildlife in each of the five chosen counties – and anyone who has seen our conservation area in Coniston will appreciate why it should be considered as one to work on for continued protection.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow says, “Coronavirus is shining a light on the importance of our natural world, and the positive impact nature can have on our health and well-being. These first pilots will be a key part of our green recovery and help kick-start the creation of over a million acres of joined up habitats that people can enjoy across the country.”
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper says, “If we wish to have rich and abundant wildlife, more carbon captured in trees, soil and hedges, better protection from extreme weather and enough places for people to gain the wellbeing benefits of good quality green spaces, then we must invest in Nature’s recovery, and at scale. National ambitions for Nature’s recovery will need to support local action and today is a significant milestone in doing just this. We look forward to working with our partners in these five areas to create bigger, better and more connected natural places to halt and then reverse the decline in our environment.”
Part of a larger 25 year government plan, it’s hoped the schemes will contribute to the creation or restoration of 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitat outside protected sites, more effectively linking existing protected sites and landscapes, as well as urban green infrastructure such as trees, hedgerows, parks, fields and forests, along with urban blue infrastructure such as rainwater tanks, bioswales, rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, and floodplains.