This report promotes the wider coverage of nature recovery networks and re-wilding projects, building on the work undertaken already in some of our green spaces. It takes the form of a review document with a series of recommendations to form a policy on nature recovery networks and re-wilding activity.
Mr Ed Dolphin read out a statement, in which h welcomed and complimented the report confirming the wide recognition that our natural environment is degrading rapidly and there is a need for action. He felt that some aspects of the plan for re-wilding can be controversial, especially in urban settings, grass cutting being one theme to recent stories and letters in the Sidmouth Herald. The experimental regime needs refinement, but many objections are based on misconceptions, which is recognised in the report, recommending a campaign of public engagement and enlightenment. He highlighted that he works with a number of environmental groups and organisations and our natural environment is in crisis, the decline of insect populations being one of the most significant problems confronting us. EDDC’s Nature Recovery Networks & Re-wilding Projects can make an important contribution to biodiversity in East Devon, and he commended the report to the Cabinet.
The Strategic Lead Housing, Health and Environment presented his report that promoted the wider coverage of nature recovery networks and re-wilding projects, building on the work undertaken already in some of the district’s green spaces. It took the form of a review document with a series of recommendations to form a policy on nature recovery networks and re-wilding activity. The report built on the priorities and objectives set out in the Green Space Plan and was consistent with the council’s corporate outstanding environment theme. The report looked at national guidance and considers definitions and existing projects. The initiative advances a commitment in the Climate Change Strategy and stated objectives in several Service Plans.
Tree planting was raised as an issue for inclusion in the recommendation, but agreement was reached that this would be included in a specific report on the work required to deliver this action from the Climate Change Strategy.
Members spoke about the need to address factors such as the extreme decline in insect species, including a statement about the Woodbury Wide Awake festival that built on wildflower surveys in that area.
Concern was raised about planting areas set out in new developments as a requirement of the planning conditions, which were subsequently removed or impacted by the owners of the newly built properties. An example was given of trees without Tree Preservation Orders being removed from a development in Exmouth.
RESOLVED that Cabinet:
To progress the Climate Change Strategy and Service Plan commitments on nature recovery and re-wilding;
1. extend coverage of nature recovery networks and rewilding projects, carefully defining EDDC aspirations;
2. work through the green spaces identified in the Green Space Plan and assess whether they were suitable for recovery/re-wilding;
3. identify a suitable re-wilding site in every East Devon town as an exemplar within a year;
4. identify areas of Housing land suitable for nature recovery and/or re-wilding and consult with tenants with proposals;
5. map and record areas identified for recovery/re-wilding and monitor the benefits arising from the process;
6. establish an improved understanding of the position of fauna and flora species in the district;
7. establish a campaign to promote the benefits of rewilding in a range of settings; and
8. establish a project group, adopt the guiding principles, and specify what constitutes re-wilding and how this can be achieved in the district.
To progress ambitions in the Climate Change Strategy, Green Space Plan, and Service Plans aimed at achieving improved biodiversity and natural habitats through re-wilding and implementing nature recovery corridors.