Local Nature Recovery Strategies are a cornerstone of the UK government's 25 Year Environment Plan. Designed to drive coordinated action for nature, climate, and people, these strategies are more than just a nod to environmentalism - they're intended to be a blueprint for the future; proposals that will play a key role in reversing the loss of nature in England.
Whether you're a landowner, manager or developer, understanding your local Local Nature Recovery Strategy is crucial. Not only will informing yourself help you understand this exciting proposal, it will also help you save you time and money and will assist in making your property or development more valuable in the future.
This blog post introduces you to what you need to know, reviews the requirements for biodiversity net gains, and highlights how you can benefit by being involved in the development of your Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
What exactly is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy?
Created by the Environment Act 2021, Local Nature Recovery Strategies are intedned to be comprehensive document created by designated authorities that will map out priority areas for specific nature recovery and restoration. They are intended to cover the whole of England
Each will include a local habitat map and written statement on biodiversity priorities. The habitat map will be a visual representation that identifies existing ecological networks and potential areas for nature recovery. It will serve as a guide for where efforts should be focused, whether it's protecting existing habitats or creating new ones. The written statement of biodiversity priorities will outline the specific goals for biodiversity improvement in the area. It will include information on priority species, habitats that need protection or restoration, and any other local biodiversity issues that need to be addressed.
In doing so, the Local Nature Recovery Strategy provides details on the types of habitats that need protection or restoration, as well as the species that should be prioritised - informing subsequent habitat creation, restoration, biodiversity additions and/or management.
Where will the Local Nature Recovery Straegies be placed?
While they are a nationwide initiative, due to the differences in landscapes, habitats, and biodiversity across the country, there won't be a one-size-fits-all approach to their shape or location. Instead, England has been divided into 48 distinct areas, each with its own Local Nature Recovery Strategy. This allows for a more tailored approach, taking into account the unique ecological characteristics and needs of each area.
Below is an outline of the specific areas. The PDF map of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy areas can be found here.
If you're a landowner or manager, this means you'll need to consult with your local authorities as to the specific requirements in your area to best understand how your land fits into the local strategy. At the national level, these 48 areas will work in tandem to create a cohesive, interconnected network of habitats across the country, each contributing to the broader environmental goals of the UK.
Who will be creating the Local Nature Recovery Strategies?
Under the Environment Act, the Secretart of State can nominate a “responsible authority” for each of the 48 Local Nature Recovery Strategies. The division into these specific areas allows for a more targeted and effective approach to nature recovery, taking into account the unique ecological and community needs of each region.
Each of the responsible authorities is responsible for coordinating the entire process with the support of a variety of organisations - from government organisations like DEFRA to environmental NGOs, academic institutions, and even some private sector partners. Each party or individual involved will be chosen for their expertise and resources in environmental management and planning.
Public consultations are also a key component, inviting landowners, managers, and the general public to contribute their perspectives. The aim of this diversity in people and groups involved is to create a comprehensive and effective strategy with buy in from multiple stakeholders.
How will Local Nature Recovery Strategies be implemented?
While these strategies are largely intended to guide rather than mandate specific actions, they will help identify where public, private, and voluntary sectors can most effectively focus their nature recovery efforts. They will become an integral part of the local planning system, influencing decisions on land use, development, and conservation. For landowners and managers, this is where opportunities arise, as the government is putting in place a package of measures to encourage alignment with these strategies.
When will Local Nature Recovery Strategies Come into Play?
To support the preparation of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, the government is providing around £14 million in funding between April 2023 and March 2025. The timeline for most strategies is estimated to be between 12 to 18 months, aiming for completion across England by March 2025.
Once up and running, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will announce when all strategies across England need to be reviewed. But broadly speaking, the review process is mandated to occur every 3 to 10 years.
Responsible authorities are then required to periodically review progress and update their strategies to reflect what has been accomplished, identifying areas where more action is needed. This ensures that the strategies remain adaptive and can effectively drive nature's recovery in both the short and long term.