Chapter 6: The biodiversity strategies and plans
UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework
Published by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) in July 2012, the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework identifies UK-scale activities and priority works that are required to deliver the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Following a process of devolution, the framework is underpinned by country level strategies which are now largely responsible for continuing the work carried out under the former but now defunct UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).
Priority Habitats and Species
Each of the devolved administrations of the UK now has a legal obligation to publish lists of habitats and species which it considers to be priorities for nature conservation. The creation of such lists are specified in England by Section 41 of the NERC Act 2006; in Wales by Section 7 of The Environment Wales Act 2016; in Scotland by Section 2 of the Nature Conservation Scotland Act 2004; and in Northern Ireland by Section 3 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. The species and habitats present on such lists are now widely referred to as ‘priority species’ and ‘priority habitats’. They may also be referred to as ‘species and habitats of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity’, a phrase which comes directly from the legislation.
The list of Priority Habitats and Species in England can be found here.
The list of Priority Habitats in Wales, and the Priority Species in Wales can be found here.
The list of Priority Habitats and Species in Scotland can be found here.
Reference to the priority habitats and species is often made in planning policy documents and in the biodiversity strategies produced by the devolved administrations.
Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services
‘Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services’ was published by Defra in 2011. The strategy builds on the Natural Environment White Paper (2011), with an overall mission to “to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people”. The strategy includes consideration of planning and development. This included the commitment to reform the planning system which has now been undertaken through the NPPF. In addition, it includes commitments to (i) retain protection and improvement of the natural environment as core objectives for local planning and development management; and (ii) support biodiversity offsetting pilots through a two-year test phase, until spring 2014. It also makes clear that the government expects the planning system to contribute to achieving no net loss of biodiversity.
Conservation 21: Natural England’s Conservation Strategy for the 21st Century
Published late in 2016, Conservation 21 sets out Natural England’s current biodiversity strategy. Natural England belives that a new approach to nature conservation is required as current appraoches do not appear to be working and the political landscape is changing, with funding cuts and opportunities to re-think the approach following our impending departure from the EU. The strategy is underpinned by an ‘outcomes approach and has three guiding principles: 1. creating reilient landscapes and seas; 2. putting people at the heart of the environment; and 3. growing natural capital. The strategy includes a shift away from the small-scale and site-based towards the landscape scale and a shift away from being enforcers to enablers. The strategy includes trusting others, and exploring solutions with them, in order to change negative attidtudes towards environmental conservation. It gives the example of great crested newts and bats on a development sites as being one area where negative perceptions prevail. The four new policies and the roll-out of a new national approach to managing great crested newts may reflect Natural England’s new approach, as set out in the strategy.
Environment Strategy for Wales 2006, together with the Wales Biodiversity Framework 2010
In the Environment Strategy for Wales it is envisaged that an outcome of the strategy by 2026 will be that the “loss of biodiversity has been halted and we can see a definite recovery in the number, range and genetic diversity of species, including those species that need very specific conditions to survive” and another is that “Our seas will be clean and support healthy ecosystems that are biologically diverse, productive and managed sustainably”. The Biodiversity Framework sets out the key challenges in achieving this target. They include (i) taking biodiversity into account at the early stages of developing plans and projects and (ii) making new & existing development and other activities more biodiversity-friendly.
Scotland’s Biodiversity: It’s in your hands – A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland (2004)
“Scotland’s Biodiversity: It’s in your hands” and the 2020 challenge document (see below) form the biodiversity strategy for Scotland. It has five major strategic objectives which include: halting the loss of biodiversity and continuing to reverse previous losses through targeted action for species and habitats; increasing engagement with local communities to raise awareness of biodiversity; restoring and enhancing biodiversity in all urban, rural and marine environments through better planning, design and practice; developing an effective management framework that ensures biodiversity is taken into account in all decision making; and promoting knowledge exchange between practitioners and policy makers . One of the proposed outcomes of the strategy is that “biodiversity – and Local Biodiversity Action Plans – are taken into account in all significant development programmes ….. and in policy, planning, design and development decisions taken by government and business.”
2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity – A Strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland (2013)
The 2020 challenge forms part of the biodiversity strategy for Scotland. Among its aims are to protect and restore biodiversity in terrestrial and marine environments and to connect people with the natural world. It provides the basis for Scotland’s response to the to the Aichi Targets set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the European Union’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2020.
Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy (2002)
The Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy sets out its goals to have the highest quality environment in the United Kingdom and arrest the decline in biodiversity. The Strategy for achieving this goal includes fully integrating biological diversity into policy making. The strategy sets out the responsibilities of government and business in achieving this goal, and essentially adopts the 76 recommendations of the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Group made in its (2000) report “Biodiversity In Northern Ireland: Recommendations to Government for a Biodiversity Strategy”. This includes recommendations to ensure that biodiversity priorities are fully addressed in development plans and to strengthen the protection of sites of nature conservation importance.
Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016: Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan
Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan has seven strategic objectives, which include: mainstreaming biodiversity in the decision making process across all sectors (Objective 1) and expanding and improving on the management of protected areas and legally protected species (Objective 6). The Plan includes a number of Targets and Actions. These include strengthening legislation and improved enforcement of wildlife law; and ensuring that all development plans comply with environmental legislation and in particular with the EC nature directives so as to prevent and minimise any potential damage to biodiversity.
All-Ireland Species Action Plans
The National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency have produced a series of All-Ireland Species Action Plans (SAPs) to enhance the conservation status of a number of priority plant and animal species, and the habitats in which they reside. The primary objective of the SAPs is to provide a framework which allies the biodiversity initiatives of Ireland and Northern Ireland and coordinate cross-border conservation efforts for these species. In brief, the SAPs propose several actions which will safeguard and promote effective management of the nominated species and place a duty on Regional and Local Planning Authorities to consider these conservation strategies within Area Plans, Development Plans and Local Biodiversity Action Plans. Each SAP should be read in parallel with other country specific action plans, which are detailed within the individual documents.
Local Biodiversity Action Plans
The local biodiversity action plans which have generally been produced at the local authority level in England, Wales and Scotland are still extant. These set the priorities for action at the local level and often include habitats and species which are not listed as priorities nationally.