Wild Purbeck partnership recognised as a shining example of nature recovery in new national initiative

The Dorset AONB Team are pleased to see the launch of an England-wide initiative that will recover nature across the length and breadth of the country and help everybody access and enjoy it.

The Nature Recovery Network (NRN) Delivery Partnership, led by Natural England, will bring together representatives from over 600 organisations to drive forward the restoration of protected sites and landscapes and help provide at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife rich habitat across England. The Network will link together our very best nature-rich places, restore landscapes in towns and the countryside and create new habitats for everybody to enjoy. It is the biggest initiative to restore nature ever to be launched in England.

As well as making sure our existing protected sites are in the best possible condition, the Nature Recovery Network programme will recover threatened animal and plant species and create and connect new green and blue spaces such as wetlands, ponds, meadows, woodlands, and peatlands. These restored habitats will help address climate change through capturing carbon, while improving the quality of our air, water, and soil, and provide natural flood protection. They will also provide us all with places to enjoy and connect with nature and help to improve our health and wellbeing.

The Nature Recovery Network will engage conservation rangers and environmentally focused community-based projects and put lost features like hedgerows and trees back into our landscapes.

Purbeck takes a visionary approach to nature recovery

As part of the Nature Recovery Network, the government is exploring the creation of large scale nature recovery areas to significantly expand wildlife habitat and deliver wide ranging benefits. This visionary approach to restoring nature was recently demonstrated by Natural England with seven leading partners designating the first ever ‘super’ National Nature Reserve (NNR) at Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve in Dorset.

The super NNR – which is the size of Blackpool – knits together 11 types of priority habitat across the landscape, giving rare and varied wildlife, including the sand lizard, the Dartford warbler, and the silver studded blue butterfly, a better chance of adapting and thriving in light of the current climate crisis. It also provides enhanced experience for 2.5 million people who visit Purbeck every year.

“Purbeck exemplifies what can be achieved when people come together in partnership”.

- Environment Minister Rebecca Pow MP, at NCN launch event on Thursday 5th November

The Wild Purbeck initiative has been acknowledged as making an important contribution to nature recover through the creation of this NNR, as Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Manager who leads the Partnership explains:

“The Wild Purbeck Partnership is delighted that this area is seen as an exemplar of the Nature Recovery Network at the local landscape level, in terms of the physical landscape itself and the partnership of people and organisations that have made that possible.

This is a nature-rich part of the world – historically a consequence of geological diversity, climate, sensitive management and to some extent benign neglect. Huge recent advances have also been made for nature, in terms of landscape connectivity and resilience and the restoration of natural processes.

An appetite and ambition to do more is shared by many within and beyond the conservation sector including farmers, landowners and members of the wider community. We look forward to supporting the Nature Recovery Network and, post-Covid, welcome visitors wishing to learn more from this partnership and to share their experience.”

Purbeck heaths (c) Michael Brown

“The Purbeck partnership has fired up the imagination as to what a fully-functioning NRN can do for our lives”

- Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust

The Nature Recovery Network is a major commitment in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. It is underpinned by ‘Local Nature Recovery Strategies’ (LNRS), established through our landmark Environment Bill, which will provide the spatial mapping and planning tools to inform nature recovery. Additional funding of over £650m, including the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and Nature for Climate Fund will help drive the Nature Recovery Network forward.

Earlier this year, Natural England and Defra announced that five local authorities will receive a share of a £1 million fund to pilot how LNRS can drive the recovery of England’s landscapes and wildlife locally.

The Nature Recovery Network will also be key to England’s recovery from coronavirus. The Natural England people survey revealed that the nation’s gardens, parks, woodlands and rivers have played a huge part in helping maintain their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, with almost nine in ten adults in England reporting that access to nature boosts their mood.