Biodiversity Action Plan
Biodiversity Action Plan
Biodiversity is the variety of life in all its forms and the habitats where it occurs
In 1992, at the ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro, the UK Government signed the Biodiversity Convention. This was followed up by the publication of Biodiversity: The UK Action Plan, in 1994, with the stated goal ‘to conserve and enhance biological diversity in the UK....‘. One way this is to be achieved is through Local Biodiversity Action Plans, which aim to focus resources to conserve and enhance biodiversity by means of local partnerships, taking account of national and local priorities.
To this end surveys of the local habitat resource (Bowen & Morris 1996) and key species (Lott 1997) in Leicestershire and Rutland, were published. A working group of representatives from 19 organisations, led by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, used this information to draw up the local plan, Biodiversity Challenge: An Action Plan for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland which was produced in 1998.
This Action Plan was modelled on the national UK Action Plan, but concentrated on habitats and species of local conservation concern. The plan has been updated three times since, once in 2004, once in 2010 and finally in 2016. The plan is now called Space for Wildlife: Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Biodiversity Action Plan (LLRBAP).
Wildlife habitats – what's happening now?
In Leicestershire and Rutland, where more than 80% of the land is farmed, good habitats for wildlife are now few and far between and much of our wildlife is being squeezed out and continues to decline. This is a reflection of the national picture where many of the UK Biodiversity Indicators show a long term decline over the period 1970 to 2007 (UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2009, DEFRA 2009).
Click here to download a Key Facts Summary document, which illustrates how Leicestershire and Rutland are amongst the poorest counties in the UK for sites of recognised nature conservation value. The very best sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest or SSSIs) represent only about 2% of the land area (c. 1.3% for Leicestershire).
The resource of nationally important habitats is even smaller. For instance there are:
- less than 200ha of calcareous grassland, of which 28ha is on SSSI and much of which is in decline and of poor quality
- less than 500ha of acid grassland, heath grassland or heath, of which 34ha is on SSSI
- 0.3 ha of wet heath
- c.500ha of species-rich neutral grassland of national UKBAP priority habitat quality (407ha on SSSI)
These important or BAP priority habitats comprise only a very small proportion of the area of Leicestershire and Rutland. In addition, many habitats are clustered in specific areas (for instance East Rutland, Charnwood Forest) with large parts of the two counties containing little or no priority habitat.
There is little evidence that habitats of national UKBAP quality have been created in our Leicestershire and Rutland. However, Space for Wildlife has had success in promoting the creation of local habitat which fall outside those defined in the UKBAP and yet these have had a significant positive impact on local wildlife. Good examples are the Trust's new nature reserves in the Soar Valley including Cossington Meadows and Wanlip Meadows; major wetland creation at Rutland Water Nature Reserve; heathland creation at Bagworth and on Bardon Hill; and extensive tree planting and wetland creation in the National Forest.
Scope of Space for Wildlife: LLRBAP
Space for Wildlife has three main components:
- To promote the restoration, management and creation of BAP priority habitats
- To promote the creation of new wildlife habitat in the wider countryside
- To survey, monitor and promote favourable management of existing good sites through the Local Wildlife Sites system.
In essence, Space for Wildlife: LLRBAP goes back to the broader intentions of the 1992 Biodiversity Convention - to halt the loss of biodiversity – by broadening the overall scope of the LLRBAP to also address wildlife conservation in the wider countryside. The intention is to promote a new, more flexible approach to nature conservation and areas managed for wildlife in Leicestershire and Rutland which is relevant and applicable to all parts of the local landscape.
See below for downloadable documents: