Essex Biodiversity Project
What are Living Landscapes?
Living Landscapes are an initiative spearheaded by the Wildlife Trusts, who have a bold aim; to safeguard all our wildlife through an unprecedented period of climate change and in the face of huge changes in agriculture and industry. Living Landscapes are large landscape scale areas of the countryside, like river valleys, estuaries, forested ridges, and grass and heath mosaics, which are ecologically stable and bursting with life. Their scale and stability provides a superb range of habitats for many species of wild plants and animals, bringing a quality of life for local people who are part of them. Their connected nature allows wildlife to move through them and makes them more resilient to threats such as climate change, floods, droughts, sea level rises and development pressure. All of this will have a huge impact upon wildlife and people.
Picture Epping Forest as a good example of a woodland Living Landscape, containing areas of grassland and heath within it, or the Dedham Vale as a river valley living landscape, or the Colne estuary as a good estuarine living landscape. All provide high quality habitats and their local communities are proud of them.
Living Landscapes in Essex
Essex Wildlife Trust and its partners have produced a Living Landscapes Map of Essex ( 1MB .jpg file) to identify 80 Living Landscape areas, based upon their existing ecological value and their potential to become even more vibrant.
The vision can only be achieved by organisations working together. Essex Wildlife Trust can provide expertise and advice. Private landowners will have an important role to play and farmers may find new opportunities to bring interest and resources to their farm. District and Borough Councils will have a role to play through their planning process, ensuring that their Local Development Framework has Core Strategy policy aimed at the provision of Living Landscapes, also known by the alternative name of Green Infrastructure. Natural England has produced a policy paper on the provision of Green Infrastructure, and they can also provide advice. Other organizations such as the Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Primary Care Trusts, Parish Councils, utility companies, Charitable Trusts and private businesses will also have their roles to play.
Co-operation gains the benefit of being part of larger whole, for example an initiative on the Essex Coast and Rivers involves Colchester, Tendring, Maldon, Rochford and Essex County Councils, Essex Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Pioneer Trust, Dengie Farm and Food Trails and the Rural Community Council of Essex to try to bring together resources to benefit wildlife, rural landscapes and local communities of the Essex Coast. Working together can bring grants and support.
Progressing the vision
The Living Landscapes Vision was established through the "Essex Local Area Agreement" as Local Indicator 10.1. This Agreement, which ran until July 2010, was made between the Government and the Essex Partnership of public, private and third sector organisations including the Essex Wildlife Trust and the Essex Biodiversity Project. The Agreement gave a good launch to the writing of Living Landscape Statements, and Essex Wildlife Trust is continuing as the lead organisation for this project, to continue to promote the objectives of the Living Landscape Statements and encourage action on the ground.
Out of the 80 Living Landscapes which have been identified, there are between 2 and 9 in each Local Authority District within the County. The important target is to get a Management Vision document in place for these Living Landscapes and to begin work to improve and promote the great value of these areas to Essex. Some 20 vision documents are in place, including Dedham Vale in the Stour Valley, Colne Valley, Lea Valley, Epping Forest, Blackwater Estuary, Hatfield Forest, Galleywood Common and Hockley Woods. You can read more about the Living Landscapes project on the Essex Wildlife Trust website at http://www.essexwt.org.uk/living-landscapes
If you would like to find out more or contribute to the Living Landscape work, please contact Emma Brogden at Essex Wildlife Trust Tel: 01621 862960
Living Landscapes at Basildon
The Langdon Living Landscape demonstrates the wide range of work that can be carried out to improve the ecological condition of our countryside, with the Basildon Natural History Society taking a prominent role in leading the work. A regular Newsletter is produced to show their work in pond restoration, orchard creation, the designation of one of the 60 national Coronation Meadows within this area, management of roadside verges, and working with local schools, to name just a few of their projects. For more information see www.bnhs.net/living-landscape and to get involved phone Sue Adams at the Essex Wildlife Trust centre at Dunton on 01268 419103 or the Langdon Living Landscape Chairman Rod Cole on 01268 553149.
In Government Planning Policy the concept of Living Landscapes is very similar to that of Green Infrastructure. See National Planning Policy Statement Paragraph 114. Local planning authorities should:
● set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the
creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of
biodiversity and green infrastructure.
There is more discussion of Green Infrastructure in the relevant page of the "Integrating Biodiversity into Development" guide in the planning section of this website - click this direct Link .