Local Nature Recovery Strategy for the West Midlands
The requirement for Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) across the whole of England were set out in the Environment Act 2021. Following this in March 2023 DEFRA published the Local nature recovery strategy statutory guidance - What a local nature recovery strategy should contain document which sits alongside the The Environment (Local Nature Recovery Strategies) (Procedure) Regulations 2023 (LNRS Regs).
The LNRS Regs came into force on 13th April 2023 with the WMCA being appointed as Responsible Authority for delivering the LNRS for the West Midlands region in June 2023.
This LNRS boundary is defined as being those administrative areas covered by the following local authorities:
- Birmingham City Council;
- Coventry City Council;
- Dudley Borough Council;
- Sandwell Borough Council;
- Solihull Borough Council;
- Walsall Borough Council; and
- Wolverhampton City Council.
These local authorities and Natural England are recognised in the LNRS Regs as ‘Supporting Authorities’ and we shall be working in partnership with them to prepare the LNRS.
What is the LNRS?
Local nature recovery strategies are a system of spatial strategies for nature and environmental improvement required by law under the Act. Each strategy must:
- agree priorities for nature’s recovery;
- map the most valuable existing areas for nature; and
- map specific proposals for creating or improving habitat for nature and wider environmental goals (adopting Nature Based Solutions).
Together, the strategies will cover the whole of England with no gaps and no overlaps. The main purpose of the strategies is to identify locations to create or improve habitat most likely to provide the greatest benefit for nature and the wider environment.
The strategies do not force the owners and managers of the land identified to make any changes. Instead, the government is encouraging action through, for example, opportunities for funding and investment. Having both actions for nature recovery and nature-based solutions will help join up work to improve how land is managed for different environmental reasons and find activities that have multiple benefits.
We are proposing to involve people and groups from across the public, private and voluntary sectors and help us work together on the LNRS. The strategy will benefit from their understanding of what environmental issues are most important locally. This will also encourage them to carry out the proposals in the strategy.
Though the WMCA, as Responsible Authority, will lead on preparation of the strategy we are not solely responsible for delivering the strategy. This should be a shared effort with public, private and voluntary sector partners all playing a role. By working with local partners the WMCA will be able to produce a strategy that is technically sound and evidence based.
The WMCA is responsible for republishing the strategy as part of an ongoing cycle which considers what has been achieved and proposes what further work is needed for nature to recover.
The development of the West Midlands LNRS is at its early stages but to date we have:
- Recruited an LNRS co-ordinator;
- Commenced discussions with key regional stakeholders; and
- We have started to form our project governance structure together with our partners.
As the strategy develops there will be opportunities for public engagement in addition to specific engagement with a range of key stakeholders throughout the process.
General opportunities will be publicised widely including via the WMCA's social media.
If you are a stakeholder (landowner, land agent, species or habitat recording group, etc.) and you wish to register your interest in a particular element of LNRS work please contact the team directly.
If you wish to speak to our team please contact us at westmidlandsLNRS@wmca.org.uk