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£3million plan to give over more Warwickshire land to wildlife

The trust's appeal graphic (45843884)
The trust's appeal graphic (45843884)

AN ambitious £3m project has been launched this week to increase the amount of land in Warwickshire where wildlife can thrive.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust wants to see 30 per cent of land in the county – and in neighbouring Coventry and Solihull – managed for wildlife by 2030, including new areas which it intends to purchase.

As well as improving the land and restoring lost habitats, the Nature Recovery Fund would encourage and help other landowners to do the same on their property.

The trust, which already has £1.5m and is appealing for donations to double this, has not revealed where it is planning to purchase land, but said discussions were under way with landowners.

Ian Jelley, director of living landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, told the Herald: “We have a number of opportunities in the pipeline, however, at this stage we are not able to disclose exact locations as discussions with the existing owners are not finalised yet.

“More information will be forthcoming and we’ll be updating our campaign as we go.

“This is the start of a ten-year strategy which we’re aiming to make good progress on over the next few months, but it’s clear it will take long-term commitment to deliver the change we need. The habitats created will be influenced by the locations of the land we acquire. So we’re not setting out to ‘plant woodland’.

“We’re setting out to bolster and expand existing habitats by creating new special places alongside them. So if we acquire land next to wetland then wetland will be our focus, and the same for the other habitats.”

Wildlife trust's stats (45843910)
Wildlife trust's stats (45843910)

The trust said the project was launched to support local action on the three big threats that our planet faces – the ecological crisis, the climate crisis and the human health crisis.

This could mean creating areas capable of coping with wildlife and humans.

“We are aiming to acquire land at scale, enough to accommodate wildlife and people,” said Ian.

“We already manage sites like Brandon Marsh, which is home to some of the rarest wildlife in our area but hosts over 30,000 visitors a year through carefully managed access.

“We won’t necessarily be looking to create a new Brandon Marsh, but it emphasises the point that wildlife and people can co-exist.

“The Covid crisis has highlighted that now, more than ever, people need access to nature rich green spaces to support their mental and physical wellbeing. These new places for nature will be on people’s doorsteps, providing them with increased access to the countryside too.”

The trust has said its focus is on land which has low value – land which is not delivering on its current use.

“It could be farmland and in that context it means its low productivity, hard to farm and not supporting viable food production,” explained Ian.

“It could also be something like a golf course which is no longer financially viable or an area of land which is currently not actively managed for a purpose.”

The scale of the plan means there is a long way to go – the trust currently estimates that about 13 per cent of the area across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull supports nature.

“That 13 per cent is made up of nature reserves, local wildlife sites, farm land in environmental stewardship, forestry and local authority green spaces,” said Ian. “Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is never going to own 30 per cent of Warwickshire, so this work will also involve us ramping up our efforts to provide advice and support to landowners so they can make space for nature on their land too.

“We’re already talking to the likes of Severn Trent and Warwick University about how they can play their part in the 30by30 initiative and help bring wildlife back to our patch.”

The trust will be holding a webinar on bringing wildlife back on Tuesday, 20th April, at 7pm. Book at www.nature-recovery-fund-bwb.eventbrite.co.uk.

To find out more, and to make a donation, visit www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal.

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