Staffordshire Wildlife Trust presents recommendations to address nature crisis over next 20 years in Stoke-on-Trent

The county’s leading conservation charity has outlined key actions that need to be taken to halt the decline of nature and ensure a thriving network of wildlife-rich green spaces in Stoke-on-Trent over the next two decades.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, which is supported by 18,000 members across the county, has contributed to a consultation on Stoke’s Local Plan, which is gathering views on how the city should grow and develop over the next 20 years.

In its response, the Trust has recommended that the following actions are taken to help nature recover, ensure green spaces are protected and fight the climate emergency in Stoke-on-Trent:

  • Nature Recovery Network (NRN) mapping should be undertaken in Stoke-on-Trent. A NRN map highlights existing ecology hotspots and corridors, and shows areas where habitat has the potential to be improved further or connected to support greater biodiversity. A NRN map would help the council to make informed strategic decisions about development and growth while conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Within Staffordshire, seven out of 10 local authorities have now commissioned NRN maps.
  • Ensure ecological data for the city is up-to-date. This includes identifying Local Wildlife Sites, irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland, and priority habitats like ponds and brownfield sites of high environmental value. The Trust highlights that much of Stoke’s green areas have not been fully assessed for their value. For example, Berryhill Fields is one of the largest open green areas in the city, but only about a quarter has any wildlife designation currently, and less than half is officially green space. Its full value and role in the network is not accurately reflected, as significant populations of protected and priority species such as birds and amphibians have not been considered.

 

The production of a Green Infrastructure Strategy, to ensure environmental actions are delivered strategically for multiple benefits, and review and update the city’s climate change policies. The Trust recommends that nature-based solutions, such as natural flood management and urban tree planting be employed to make the city resilient to the impacts of climate change and help sequester more carbon.

The Trust’s Head of Nature Recovery Networks, David Cadman, said: “In addition to the climate emergency, we are facing a biodiversity crisis, with many wild species facing huge declines or even extinction due to threats to their habitats and habitat fragmentation.

“Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is keen to work with partners to improve the habitat quality across the city’s greenspace network. The Trust is currently working with the council on the ERDF SUNRISE project and this has already delivered huge benefits to the city including river restoration, new wildflower meadows and improvements to woodlands.

“As well as addressing the crisis facing our natural world, the management of greenspaces to benefit biodiversity will bring a host of other benefits to the city including flood reduction, air quality improvements and increased carbon sequestration.”

You can view the Trust’s full response to the Local Plan ‘Issues and Options’ Consultation at  www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/stoke-trent-and-urban-newcastle. The consultation asks for views on a variety of topics relating to the development of Stoke-on-Trent over the next 20 years, including how green spaces are managed and how biodiversity is conserved. The consultation is open until June 21 2021 and the Trust is urging nature lovers to register their views to reinforce the importance of the natural environment to local residents.