Introducing Nature North: an unprecedented collaboration to will power Nature Recovery in the North of England

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Logo: Nature North
Bell Sykes Meadow with wildflowers
Bell Sykes Meadow, Slaidburn ©Graham Cooper

By: Steph Hepworth, Nature North Project Officer and Dr Colm Bowe, Nature North Development Manager

Nature North: working together to drive nature recovery in the North of England

A consortium of leading environmental organisations in the North of England has joined forces to support the delivery of nature recovery at a strategic scale. This is the first known initiative of its kind in the UK working at this magnitude.

Nature North is a collaboration led by:
Environment Agency; Natural England; Areas of Outstanding National Beauty in the North of England; the National Parks in the North of England; The National Trust; The Wildlife Trusts; RSPB England; The Rivers Trust; The Woodland Trust; The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Nature North: The vision

The natural environment in the North of England is unique in terms of diversity, beauty, scale and value.

Nature North aims to secure a thriving environment across Northern England, with nature acknowledged by policymakers, the public and businesses as key to the prosperity, wellbeing and resilience of communities in the North.

What does the Nature North collaboration aim to achieve?

Nature North will forge stronger partnerships bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, from conservation organisations to statutory bodies, to local and regional authorities, to health bodies and industry.

This important work will support the vision and ambition needed to halt the decline in nature so that everyone across the North can benefit. It will empower the nature sector and its partners to deliver activities that will see the unique nature of the North of England thrive, as well as supporting new habitat creation.

School children on a trip at Little Woolden moss bog
Carbon Creative- St Mark’s School Children at Little Woolden Moss Bog ©Lancashire Wildlife Trust

Nature plays a key role in growing the economy and providing resilience to climate change. The hope is that this collaborative work will generate green jobs, boost biodiversity, enhance water quality, improve the health of the population, reduce flooding, support climate change adaptation and help attain net zero.

Nature North: the investable propositions

Seven key areas have been identified to drive nature recovery in the region. The hope is that this work to drive nature recovery, can in turn deliver climate resilience and support a sustainable economy for the North of England.

Termed ’Investable Propositions’, the group has identified five brand new fields and two existing programmes to concentrate on.

St Aidan's Wet Grassland, filled with birds and wildlife in Yorkshire
St Aidan’s Wet Grassland, Swillington, Yorkshire ©RSPB, David Morris

The five brand new investable propositions are as follows:

Green Northern Connections - Greening major infrastructure developments like transport and energy to mitigate impacts, build in climate change resilience, create opportunities for improved nature connectivity at landscape scale, and for more accessible greenspace for peoples’ health and wellbeing.

Liveable Northern Towns and Cities - supporting strategic improvement and enhancement of existing green spaces in northern towns and cities. This will address inequalities in access to nature and linked impacts to health and wellbeing, changes in working practices post-pandemic, and the effects of climate change. Green spaces and better access to them, have been found to be a key feature of successful places and have an increasing role in town and city centre regeneration.

Thriving Coasts and Estuaries - driving livelihood creation and environmental benefits to reinvigorate coastal communities, many of which are economically and ecologically degraded. Activities including salt marsh restoration, sustainable fishing initiatives and support for ecotourism will provide benefits such as recovering fish stocks, providing coastal flood protection and improving the visitor economy through place making, clearer bathing water and greater wildlife.

A space of urban flowers
Urban flowers, Sheffield ©Paul Hobson

Resilient Farming North - supporting sustainable, productive and nature friendly farming in northern lowlands. The intensification and the influence of agricultural policy has resulted in a system with higher flood risk and reduced soil quality. Farmers will be supported to further improve efficiency or productivity in a sustainable way to meet future demands on their land and exposure to global markets. Regenerative farming approaches such as improved soil management, crop rotation, creating buffer strips, wetland creation and the planting of hedgerows will aid nature recovery.

Healthy Northern Rivers - upscaling existing activities and best practice in funding and implementing nature recovery interventions related to river catchment areas. Proposed activities include restoring and creating habitats, naturalising river systems, reconnecting flood plains to rivers, natural flood management and reintroducing key species. Work with farmers to improve land and soil management will also be key to promoting sustainable production methods.

These will build on the success of the two existing programmes:

The Northern Forest - establishing at least 50 million trees from Liverpool to Hull; an estimated 7.5 million tonnes of CO2e sequestered over 25 years. For every £1 spent, an average of £2.79 can be expected to be returned in economic and social benefits.[1]

Great North Bog - protection of blanket bog to avoid the release of 400 million tonnes of stored carbon; restoration to avoid emissions of 4.4 million t/CO2e/yr from degraded peat. Upland peatland protection and restoration – for every £1 spent, £4.62 can be expected to be returned in economic and social benefits.[1]

How will Nature North contribute Green Growth in the North of England?

The Nature North collaboration will facilitate investment in nature recovery through the cross-regional Investable Propositions building on the success of existing at scale approaches in the North of England; the Northern Forest and Great North Bog.

Nature recovery will play a key role in Green Growth:

Mossland planting in action
Mossland Planting ©Becky Royce
  • Green Job Creation: Nature Recovery will play a key role in generating green jobs in the North of England, often in economically vulnerable areas. 25 temporary jobs and 6 job years created for every 100ha of woodland created.[1]
  • Achieving Net Zero: As home to the majority of England’s peatlands, an extensive coastline and a woodland cover much lower than the national average, nature recovery in the North of England has a key role to play in achieving net zero.
  • Improved Health and Wellbeing of Communities: By improving access to quality green spaces, nature recovery can play a key role in addressing health inequalities and associated productivity gaps found across the North of England.
  • Place Making: Nature recovery and greenspace will play a key part in place making and driving economic growth and wellbeing in northern cities, towns and villages.
  • Water Quality: Restoring ecosystems across catchments in the North will restore natural functions which will move river catchment to exceptional condition.
  • Flood Regulation: Nature Recovery supports the landscape to manage flood risk in a cost-effective way.
  • Biodiversity: Nature Recovery will play a key role in improving the condition and connectivity of out habitats and improving species diversity and abundance

How can I find out more?

Visit our website
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[1] Cambridge Econometrics(2021) RSPB: Economic costs and benefits of nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change.

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Posted On: 28/10/2022

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