Vast new tracts of land in England, from city fringes to wetlands, will be focused on supporting wildlife in five major “nature recovery” projects.
The five projects in the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset are designed to help tackle wildlife loss and the climate crisis, and improve public access to nature.
It is expected the nature recovery schemes will extend across 99,200 hectares of land (245,000 acres) in total over time – equivalent in size to all 219 current national nature reserves.
Projects will also develop plans to work with communities in cities and deprived areas to improve their access to nature, including creating new green areas and improved footpaths and bridleways.
The environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “These five projects across England are superb examples of exciting, large-scale restoration that is critically needed to bring about a step-change in the recovery of nature in this country. They will significantly contribute to achieving our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030 and our commitment to protect 30 percent of our land by 2030, enabling us to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”
The Natural England chair, Tony Juniper, added: “Nature recovery can only occur if we take action at scale, and that can only work through partnerships. These five landmark projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of landowners and organisations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, adaptation to climate change and for public wellbeing.”