1. Natural Environment Partnership

The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (NEP) is a project bringing together a wide variety of individuals, businesses and organisations that have an interesting in driving positive change in the local natural environment. This NEP forms one of a 49 Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) in Britain, developing a vision to highlight the importance of the natural environment and develop a more joined up approach through linking environmental objectives with social and economic goals.

The NEP was formerly recognised as a LNP in June 2012 and is formed of board members from the health, education and business sectors alongside local government, governmental and non-governmental environmental bodies.

The NEP has 5 main priorities:

  1. The development of a collective voice, championing the county’s natural environment. Only by working together can we can work towards our common goals.
  2. Highlighting the range of benefits that the national environment provides to people, communities and the local economy. The NEP aims for a thriving local economy supported by and supporting the natural environment.
  3. Developing landscape scale approaches to conservation. Only by having large, connected habitats across the whole county can we have resilient wildlife populations which can adapt to changes like climate change.
  4. Highlighting the health and wellbeing benefits of the natural environment. It is well known that access to the natural environment affects heath and quality of life. The NEP will engage with Health and Wellbeing boards to work to the common goal of happier, healthier communities
  5. Gathering evidence to support and underpin their work

2. National Pollinator Strategy

The food industry in England is worth £100bn annually and forms the heart of our economy. Without pollinators such as bees, hoverflies, wasps, moths, beetles and butterflies, this industry would be in serious trouble. In 2014, a National Pollinator Strategy for England was released by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs. This strategy aims to work out how to improve the state of pollinator populations in England and build up our understanding of why pollinator populations are declining. This 10 year strategy aims to deliver across 5 key areas:

  1. Supporting pollinators on farmland
  2. Supporting pollinators across towns, cities and the countryside
  3. Enhancing the response to pest and disease risks
  4. Raising awareness of what pollinators need to survive and thrive
  5. Improving evidence on the status of pollinators and the service they provide

Through this strategy, DEFRA would like to achieve:

  • More, bigger, better, joined-up, diverse and high-quality flower-rich habitats (including nesting places and shelter) supporting pollinators across the country
  • Heathy bees and other pollinators which are more resilient to climate change and severe weather events
  • No further extinctions of known pollinator species
  • Enhanced awareness across a wide range of businesses, other organisations and the public of the essential needs of pollinators
  • Evidence of actions taken to support pollinators

We are working to play our part in this strategy through our role in the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership including reviewing our Roadside Verge Nature Reserves.

You can play your part by encouraging pollinators in your garden by providing native flowers for them to feed on and sites for them to nest in. There is also a wide variety of other ways in which you can encourage biodiversity in your garden, please see our page on wildlife gardening for more information.

3. Wildlife recording

To be able to conserve a species, we need to be able to have up to date records detailing the distribution and ecology of that species. Having up to date records allows us to map where species are, how these distributions are changing and inform conservation measures. For example high resolution data of invasive species distributions allows us to target measures to remove these species or limit their spread and effect on the environment.

This data can be used at a local level to inform planning decisions and conservation measures. This data can also be used to contribute to national datasets such at the National Biodiversity Network and international databases such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Your records can then be used by scientists to conserve species globally including modelling how species will respond to future challenges such as a changing climate.

People in Britain have been recording wildlife for hundreds of years. Since the 1970s the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC) has been collating records in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes and supplying it to the public and professionals to inform local biodiversity action plans and planning applications.

BMERC also:

  • Provides data to local recorders and national recording schemes
  • Coordinates the recording groups in Buckinghamshire including the Buckinghamshire Rare Plant group and Buckinghamshire Invertebrate Group (BIG)
  • Loans out equipment to aid wildlife recording
  • Organises a free recorders seminar each year with talks on biodiversity and wildlife recording in Buckinghamshire

To find out more information about sending in records and how these records are used, please email erc@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

4. Improving gardens for wildlife

All of the gardens in Britain added together are,  larger than all the nature reserves in Britain. There are a number of ways in which it can be enhanced in gardens including:

  • Plant wildflowers, try to select native species.
  • Plant nectar rich flowers for pollen
  • The use of slug pellets may affect our hedgehog and garden birds
  • Not using pesticides, these kill insects such as bees.
  • Put up nest boxes for birds or bats
  • Feed the birds, especially during winter
  • Leaving areas of your lawn unmown
  • Making sure your fences have a gap to allow the passage of small mammals
  • Creating bug hotels for solitary bees and other animals
  • A small  wildlife pond, can attract a huge variety of species 
  • Planting native hedgerows instead of fencing

5. Ecosystem services

We derive a vast array of benefits from nature that is reliant upon an intact biodiversity; these are often described as ‘ecosystem services’. Ecosystem services provide outputs or outcomes that directly and indirectly affect human wellbeing and these considerations can link well to taking an economic approach. These services include supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services.

  • Supporting - These services are essential for establishing other ecosystem services and include services such as nutrient recycling, primary production and the formation of soil.
  • Provisioning - Ecosystems also provide us with a variety of products including food, water, raw materials, and energy.
  • Regulating - Ecosystems also regulate the world around us and make it habitable. Such services include the storage of carbon, climate regulation, waste recycling, purification of water and air, pest and disease control and flood prevention.
  • Cultural - Ecosystems also provide cultural benefits to us including connecting up with the world around us, this in turn has clear health benefits. We also use ecosystems for recreation and education.

The services that ecosystems provide are being lost though as we degrade our planet. One study, known as that The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) has estimated that the cost of degradation of our planets ecosystems is costing us 50 billion Euros each year, a cost that is likely to increase in the future if we do not change the way we care for the planet.

For more information see the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) framework.

6. Roadside verges for wildlife

We have been looking at roadside verge management in partnership with colleagues from the Bucks and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (NEP).

We recognise the huge potential for wildlife and its contribution to Biodiversity Action Plan targets, including the establishment of wildflowers and encouragement of pollinators.

A project is underway to:

  • look at the potential for better road verge management for wildlife
  • engage with national specialists on road verge management and local wildlife groups

We will be encouraging an internal review of roadside verge management, including cutting regimes, to maximise benefits for wildlife, whilst meeting safety and other requirements.

For more information please visit the NEPs Roadside Verges for Wildlife project page