New plan for nature to help make a greener Greater Manchester

Jul 4, 2023 | Natural Environment

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Greater Manchester has begun development of a new plan designed to help nature recover across the city-region, following confirmation of funding from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been allocated around £250,000 to develop its Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) over the next two years, building on the city-region’s successful LNRS pilot which concluded in September 2021.

Working with stakeholders from across the city-region, the new strategy will go beyond simply showing how and where we will bring nature back into Greater Manchester – it will set out a blueprint for a more liveable city-region, with fairer access to green space for all. It will identify areas already important for nature and people, alongside pinpointing opportunities to create a new network for nature that connects people to green spaces across the city-region.

Like the rest of the country, Greater Manchester faces closely linked climate and biodiversity emergencies, with the abundance and diversity of many of our key species now in long term decline. This means that our natural environment is becoming less resilient and less able to provide us with the benefits we often take for granted. This includes defence against climate change and the extreme weather that we are already experiencing, as our natural environment helps reduce flood risk, reduce the impact of heatwaves in urban areas, and store new carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, declared a biodiversity emergency in the city-region in March 2022, acknowledging – both locally and nationally – that we need to do more to support the recovery of nature and increase the benefits it provides to our people and our economy.

We are already seeing green shoots around Greater Manchester, with several initiatives underway to boost nature recovery including:

  • The declaration of a new National Nature Reserve, Pennington Flashes, in Wigan and Leigh.
  • The creation of Mayfield, Manchester’s first new park in 100 years.
  • The development of the Eden building in Salford, which features Europe’s largest green wall.
  • The £2.6m Green Spaces Fund, which has supported 52 community-led projects to date.
  • The opening of the National Trust’s Castlefield Viaduct, which has transformed the historic viaduct into a park in the sky.
  • Undertaking surveys of all the main rivers and surrounding areas within the River Irwell catchment to understand the impact of invasive, non-native species (INNS) and propose measures to tackle them.

But progress isn’t happening at the scale or speed required. The LNRS will address this, giving us an opportunity to weave the protection and enhancement of nature into Greater Manchester’s approach to development, regeneration, new and existing infrastructure and the delivery of services like health, transport and utilities.

Welcoming the Defra announcement, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “With our ambitious target of making Greater Manchester carbon neutral by 2038, it is increasingly clear that we need a step change in action to improve the natural environment.

“Our Local Nature Recovery Strategy will set out our vision for a greener Greater Manchester, where space for nature to flourish is grown and enhanced, more people can access and enjoy the natural environment, and the many benefits nature brings are increased – from supporting mental and physical wellbeing to creating leisure space and supporting biodiversity.

“I hope everyone in the city-region – from businesses and developers to community groups and individuals – will find ways to support and act on the strategy as it develops over the next 12 months, helping us shape the future of our natural environment and a greener Greater Manchester.”

The announcement of funding for Greater Manchester’s plan comes as part of a national ambition to create a National Nature Recovery Network, as set out in Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Environment Act. The National Nature Recovery Network will be a country-wide chain of wildlife-rich places, aiming to expand, improve and connect these places across our cities, towns, countryside and coast.

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