Mayor Steve Rotheram to lead plans for rewilding the Liverpool City Region

Mayor Steve Rotheram is set to develop an ambitious ‘rewilding’ plan that could eventually see the wider reintroduction of some of the region’s most endangered species such as red squirrels, natterjack toads and brown hares. 

The Mayor and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are working to restore and repair the natural habitats of some of the area’s most threatened species through a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS). 

The region’s post-industrial legacy has left its biodiversity in a state of decline with a 5% loss of all habitats since the 1980s, including 10% of its most biodiverse grasslands.

Since 1970, 36 priority species of plants and animals, including skylarks and the lesser spotted woodpecker, have not been seen in the city region and could be considered locally extinct, with a further 34 species not seen since 1989. 

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the precious habitats and ecosystems of some of our native species left exposed to both human activity and the effects of climate change – and the results are alarming. With so much of our country’s wildlife and natural biodiversity at risk, these fragile ecosystems need to be protected more than ever. 

“Wildlife is something to be cherished and protected for future generations, so we’re taking decisive action to start to tackle the decline of wildlife across our region. How fantastic would it be, for example, to see our famous red squirrel population growing again? 

“Our residents deserve to live in a greener, cleaner city region with thriving green spaces on their doorstep and protecting and sustaining our natural world will be key to achieving that ambition. While we’re only at the beginning of this journey, I’m confident we can start to make a really positive difference.” 

The LNRS will enable the Combined Authority and local partners to deliver three objectives, namely: mapping the most valuable existing habitats for nature; detailing specific proposals for creating or improving local habitats both for nature and wider environmental goals; and co-ordinating agreement of the local priorities for nature’s recovery. 

The UK has lost nearly 50% of its biodiversity, placing it in the top 10% most nature depleted countries in the world, and the most nature-depleted of the G7 group of nations. 

Urgent action is required to restore the natural environment, which will provide a range of benefits to society, including clean air and water, improved physical and mental health, carbon absorption, more sustainable food, reducing the impacts of climate change and providing access to green spaces. 

Councillor David Baines, Portfolio Holder for Portfolio Holder for Net-Zero and Air Quality, said, “Developing a Local Nature Recovery Strategy is a vital part of our mission to become a clean, green city region.  Climate change and biodiversity loss are interlinked, twin crises and we need to put the same effort into tackling them both.  Restoring our natural environments is not only good for our local flora and fauna, it has practical benefits for our 1.6 million residents too, from ensuring clean air and water to increasing our resilience to climate change and taking carbon out of the atmosphere.” 

Introduced by the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Local Nature Recovery Strategies are intended to deliver a joined-up Nature Recovery Network across the whole of England. 

Across the country, the strategies will help restore and link up habitats so that species can thrive. The process of producing the strategy will ensure local partners collaborate to agree the best places to help local nature recovery.   

A key principle of LNRS is that the process must be locally led, evidence-based and co-produced. They will bring together communities and decision-makers across the public, private and voluntary sector to prioritise action for biodiversity. 

Natural England has a leading role in supporting responsible authorities to achieve the purpose, aims and process of LNRS. 

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