UK charity amalgam the Wildlife Trusts is calling on the government to adopt a new measure ensuring housing developers remedy the damage they cause to wildlife habitats.
Under the “net gain” approach, developers would have to both redress the damages caused by construction and produce quantifiable improvements by creating nature-friendly spaces which can serve as habitats for birds, bees and butterflies. By implementing these Nature Recovery Networks, it is hoped that the UK’s most endangered species of animals and plants will be able to thrive after the severe decline of the last 50 years.
Dr Sue Young, Head of Land Use Planning and Ecological Networks at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The creation of local Nature Recovery Network maps will be critical to the success of net gain. These maps will show developers and decision makers where to avoid harm to the natural environment and where to actively contribute to its recovery by identifying the opportunities where we need to join-up fragmented places which are important for wild plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts want these maps to be a legal requirement – the mechanism that will make net gain actually work.”
The Wildlife Trusts are urging authorities and developers to make a number of systemic changes to address the decline in UK wildlife, including:
- Constructing new buildings in areas which will have the least possible impact on wild places and habitats;
- Mitigating the damage they cause by replacing the habitats affected by their work; and
- Delivering measurable gains to the net wildlife population above the basic damage compensation.
Dr Young said: “We want to see nature put at the heart of new developments, so that new homes are great for both people and wildlife…there’s a huge challenge ahead: thousands of new houses are to be built yet we need to restore the natural world. We’re calling on developers to build beautiful, nature-friendly communities in the right places, creating and restoring more wild places than are destroyed or damaged by building.”