Thursday, 1 January 2015

Local Wildlife Sites "are being ruined by farming, development and neglect"

Several of our 'outstanding' areas of wildlife are under threat:
Futures Forum: Biodiversity and offsetting nightingales

In Devon, as elsewhere, there are struggles to keep wildlife intact:
Futures Forum: Managing wildlife loss in Devon

However, the County is making efforts to look after corners of wildlife
Futures Forum: Local authorities and managing the natural environment

... whether for the humble roadside
Futures Forum: Devonshire hedgerows and verges - and national guidance on cutting
Futures Forum: Devonshire hedgerows and verges - pilot project

... or woodlands:
Futures Forum: Woodland Trust tree champion for Devon

In Sidmouth there are 'hidden gems' which harbour wildlife too:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth green lanes...

Whilst in our gardens and beyond, we can do our bit:
Futures Forum: Wild Flowers and Front Gardens in Sidmouth
Futures Forum: "How ancient Devon woodland will help citizen scientists predict the effects of climate change"
Futures Forum: Notes from a Clifftop Apiary: 'the funny side of beekeeping'

A book will be out soon celebrating the wildlife of the area:
Futures Forum: Upcoming book on wildlife of the Sid Valley ... ... ... contributions welcome

However, it is those 'forgotten' corners that some of the most interesting wildlife can be found - and these are often areas with conflicting uses and opposing interests:
Futures Forum: Of 'urban wildlife' and 'brownfield sites'...

Last week, the Independent featured a report by the Wildlife Trusts warning of these dangers:

Local wildlife sites not protected by statute are being ruined by development, warns report

A tenth of 'secret spaces' have been lost or damaged in the past five years


Wildlife-rich “secret spaces” are being ruined by farming, development and neglect, according to a new report, which finds that a tenth of these havens have been lost or damaged in the past five years. England’s Local Wildlife Sites (LWSs) encompass ancient woodlands, vibrant meadows, quiet churchyards and roadsides, providing habitat for everything from butterflies and bees, to orchids and hedgerows.

But unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), which enjoy special protection and are well-known to the public, LWSs are often hidden from view and have no strict legal protection.

“Local Wildlife Sites are the Cinderella of the natural environment. Many are quiet, unnoticed places in which nature thrives,” said Stephen Trotter, director of The Wildlife Trusts England, the group behind the report.

Aylestone Meadows, Leicester. Species such as grass snakes, otters and badgers have been found at this site. A plan in 2011 to build football pitches here was rejected after a campaign by local residents and groups

“If this trend is allowed to continue, more of our most valuable and treasured wildlife and wild places will be lost forever,” he added. “There is a real and pressing need for them to receive the recognition of their true value to society.”

Local Wildlife Sites have been identified by experts as crucial to help preserve biodiversity, either in their own right or by acting as corridors or links between other important habitats. They cover more than 5 per cent of England’s land mass, much of it as rich in wildlife as the much smaller area covered by SSSIs.

The areas being damaged include Langdon Meadows, near Basildon in Essex, home to rare bumble-bees and butterflies, as well as wild orchids, bats and badgers and which will be largely destroyed by an approved development of 725 homes. Hendover Coppice nature reserve, near Hillfield in West Dorset, has been badly damaged after hazel trees were ripped up to create a track for vehicles.

Although LWSs are not protected by statute, national planning rules require local authorities to identify sites for their wildlife value and provide for their protection.

Hendover Coppice, Dorset. Ancient woodland near Hillfield supporting protected dormice and flora. Hazel trees ripped out and ground cleared to create a vehicle track from a parking area to an adjacent road

The Wildlife Trust said the decline of these sites in the past five years is even more alarming because it continues a trend that has been going on for decades and is likely to accelerate as a result of an expected surge in new housing, roads and infrastructure.Austerity cuts will also play a role because it will reduce the scope of publicly-owned sites to manage them effectively, the Trust said.

The Wildlife Trust report covered only England. However, other reports suggest that the rest of the UK is also suffering tremendous losses of biodiversity and habitat loss. Sir David Attenborough warned recently that Scotland’s wildlife and landscapes need greater protection than ever before in the face of widespread species decline.

“Scotland contains some of the finest landscapes and wildlife spectacles found around the British Isles, but today it is in need of our help more than ever. From the wonders of the Cairngorms, to the Hebridean beaches and flower-filled machair meadows, we must invest and take immense care in how we steward these stunning places if they are to survive,” he said.

Local wildlife sites not protected by statute are being ruined by development, warns report - Nature - Environment - The Independent

This is from the Wildlife Trusts' website:

Secret Spaces: the status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014

A Local Wildlife Site in Leicestershire (credit Neil Talbot)A Local Wildlife Site in Leicestershire (credit Neil Talbot)
Local Wildlife Sites (LWSs) are identified and selected for their local nature conservation value. They protect threatened species and habitats acting as buffers, stepping stones and corridors between nationally-designated wildlife sites.

Secret Spaces: the status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014

On 22 December 2014, The Wildlife Trusts published two reports: The status of England’s Local Wildlife Sites 2014and a shorter summary report Secret Spaces: The status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014.  The reports are available below.  You can read the media release here.
The reports are based on a survey of 48 of the 53 Local Wildlife Site partnerships across England – the 48 partnerships collectively cover all but eight English local authority areas and three of the ten National Park areas.
The survey, which is the seventh in a series of surveys conducted by The Wildlife Trusts, found that more than 11% of 6,590 Local Wildlife Sites monitored in the period 2009 – 2013 were lost or damaged. Forty five partnerships reported that they urgently need more resources to ensure the effective identification, management and protection of Local Wildlife Sites in their area and to combat the causes of neglect, inappropriate management and development pressures that threaten these sites.
Summary report                                                               Full report

Local Wildlife Sites - on this page

What are Local Wildlife Sites?

There are over 40,000 Local Wildlife Sites across England
Local Wildlife Sites (LWSs) are wildlife-rich sites selected for their local nature conservation value. They vary in shape and size and can contain important, distinctive and threatened habitats and species. In many parts of the UK, they are the principal wildlife resource but their designation is non-statutory and their only protection comes via the planning system. They are not protected by law like SSSIs or National Nature reserves. Whilst SSSIs are a representative sample that meet national criteria, LWSs include all sites that meet local selection criteria. Many are owned by private individuals.

How are Local Wildlife Sites selected?

Local partnerships oversee the selection of LWSs using robust, scientifically-determined criteria and a local knowledge and understanding of the area’s natural environment. LWS partnerships are made up of a great variety of stakeholders including local authorities, public bodies, nature conservation NGOs and landowners large and small.


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