New guide calls for protection of vanishing wildlife havens

Monday 5th September 2016

Photo by Malcolm Brown

The Wildlife Trusts have published a new guide which highlights the vital importance of Local Wildlife Sites across the UK.

Crucial but poorly understood and under-valued, these places are havens for some of our rarest habitats and species. Yet hundreds of them are being lost or becoming degraded every year.

In Birmingham and the Black Country, we have 644 Local Wildlife Sites covering 4,599 hectares - more than 7 per cent of our region in total. This is land that has been identified as very important for wild plants and animals. But these places do not always benefit from the recognition needed to ensure protection and the right kind of care.

Rachel Hackett, Living Landscapes Development Manager, explains: “The Wildlife Trusts hope to inspire landowners, planners, local authorities, statutory agencies, developers, managers and volunteers to recognise, cherish and protect these wild havens. Local Wildlife Sites form a vital network of wild habitats which, together, make up the very core of our natural heritage. We’re calling on everyone involved with these special places to protect them and seek expert advice on the best way of caring for each place’s unique character, habitat and species."

Unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Local Wildlife Sites are not protected by law and do not benefit from national recognition of their wildlife importance. This makes them vulnerable to neglect, mismanagement and the huge pressure for development across the country.

Rachel Hackett continues: “The UK’s natural habitats and the wildlife that depends on them will not survive if they are merely confined to a few Sites of Special Scientific Interest. We must value and protect all our Local Wildlife Sites much more if we are to ensure a healthy future for a diverse and abundant range of wildlife.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ report, ‘Secret Spaces’, published in 2014 found that more than 11% of Local Wildlife Sites monitored in the period 2009–2013 were lost or damaged.

Rachel Hackett concludes: “Local Wildlife Sites are often the places we all know in our neighbourhoods – from wildlife-rich hedgerows and roadsides to commons and green open spaces in our towns and cities. If you own or manage one, contact your local Wildlife Trust and they can either offer expert advice or point you in the right direction for help with surveys and management options.”

For a copy of our new Local Wildlife Sites guide click here, and to find out more about The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country visit bbcwildlife.org.uk.