2020: THE YEAR OF THE ENVIRONMENT BILL
by SARAH WOODS
A new year always prompts us to look to the future, and this year is no exception. The State of Nature 2019 report, released last year, identified that our natural heritage is under threat. On average, the diversity and abundance of ecological biodiversity has declined significantly across the UK since 1970 and these declines are predicted to continue into the future. The New Year and New Decade brings with it, important new resolutions to combat ecological decline.
Following the Queen’s Speech of 2019 and the publication of the 25 year plan for the Environment in 2018, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK is now making the right steps towards ensuring that the future of our natural environment is secure for generations to come. We will need to act swiftly to ensure that we do not lose any more of the wonderful species of wildlife and rare habitats that make up our natural environment, and now it appears that the Government is recognising the need for that action. It was announced in the Queen’s speech last year that the Environment Bill will be introduced legislating targets for environmental protection, which is highly likely to include aspects such as the net gain principle, air quality improvement, plastic consumption reduction and improving natural habitats.
Rural Solutions can proudly say that we have already prepared ahead of these policies and are currently working with our clients to incorporate net gain calculations, ecological restoration plans, and habitat management strategies into our project work.
Our in-house ecology team are able to offer wildlife surveys and management and restoration plans. The use of these services alongside our planning, advisory, design and landscape offerings allows us to use innovative strategies to ensure the best possible outcome for not only our clients, but also the natural environment as well.
Our aim is, where appropriate, to apply enhancement measures to the majority of our sites, and we are also looking to work with clients in the exciting new field of ecological restoration. This is where areas of land that have changed use over time are returned to a more natural and wild state, with native species composition and previously lost habitats being restored to their previous glory. Our ecological restoration strategies are also accompanied by a habitat management plan to ensure that species diversity is kept at the best possible level for the future, to give some of our rarer species and habitats the chance to flourish and thrive before they are lost forever.
Even on smaller sites, we can all do our own small part to help encourage native wildlife to grow and thrive. Did you know that if we were to collect together all of the residential gardens of the UK, we would have an area of potential habitat larger than all of our current National Parks and National Nature Reserves? The smallest of changes can still result in a large impact, and it is part of our ongoing commitment to the environment to help our clients access the full potential of their land holdings.
By focusing on increasing the net gain value of every one of our sites, we are ensuring that the legacy of our natural heritage is conserved and enhanced for future generations. This is of vital importance to our natural environment, and something we at Rural Solutions are proud to be a part of. Will you include looking after the natural environment in your resolutions for this year too?