Nature & biodiversity
Loss of biodiversity
The crisis we face is both a carbon and an ecological crisis. The UK has lost almost half of its biodiversity (the variety of living species on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi) since the 1970s and 15% of the 8,431 species found here are threatened with extinction (RSPB State of Nature 2019). The UK ranks in the lowest 10% of countries internationally for its (lack of) biodiversity and a study by the Natural History Museum published in 2021 reported that overall 41% of UK species were in decline, and that 26% of UK mammals are at risk of extinction.
Biodiversity is important; it underpins global nutrition and food security and impacts on economic growth, it contributes to human health and wellbeing for both physical and mental health, it enables clean air, clean water and healthy soils and it provides us all with beauty and wonder. Land management for biodiversity also supports carbon reduction, the two are inextricably linked, and critical to success is the relationship between food production and ecology, through farming systems that support high nature value.
There are key policy drivers to improve ecological health, such as Nature Recovery Strategies for each county. The post-Brexit Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) is intended to support measures that improve “public goods” – those things provided by land management that are not provided primarily through market mechanisms, including the ability to store carbon, supply clean water etc
Within Shropshire local initiatives are moving the biodiversity agenda forward.
Local targets are to expand and restore woodland cover in ways that are sympathetic to nature and the landscape. Local examples include:
Roadside verges and hedgerows
Effective management of roadside verges and hedgerows can have significant impacts for biodiversity gain and also help sequester carbon.
The project covers 200 km2 and includes the Long Mynd SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and the Stiperstones NNR (National Nature Reserve). The aim is to create ecological connectivity; connecting wildlife habitats by strengthening or creating “Stepping Stones” and corridors of habitats between and around these two core sites.
RSVP volunteers ‘adopt’ verges, sowing and planting wildflowers to support wildlife.
Partners in biodiversity enhancement
Friends of Mortimer Forest help preserve and enhance the natural environment in Mortimer Forest which covers South Shropshire and North Herefordshire and to encourage its use to promote mental and physical health and educational activities.
Going Wild in Bishop’s Castle is a project to ‘green’ Bishop’s Castle and encourage biodiversity by planting trees, hedgerows, herbs, shrubs, ponds, nest boxes etc.
Land, Life & Livelihoods is a community initiative operating in the Clun Forest and working with farmers and the wider community.
Marches Meadow Group operates on both sides of the Welsh Marches in Shropshire and Powys. They are interested in the management and conservation of wildflower rich hay meadows of all sizes from patches of lawn upwards. Join up and attend events, walks and talks.
Middle Marches Community Land Trust (MMCLT) is a community-led Trust based in the Middle Marches which is committed to the promotion and development of sustainable and environmentally responsible agriculture. It protects, conserves, restores and enhances the environment through the purchase, lease and management of land.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust manage over 40 Nature Reserves across Shropshire and run local groups and events across the county.
Sarah’s blog tells the story of an 11-acre field in south Shropshire bought in 2018 and now managed for nature (with wetland, meadow, woodland and ponds).
Pams Pools is a permaculture and wildlife project near Bridgnorth working to enhance the biodiversity of an 110 acre site centred on disused quarry pits.