Nature Recovery Network

Nature Recovery Network to create a Wilder Future

Wildlife and natural systems joined up, and working, everywhere

We believe a Nature Recovery Network, set in law, could be the solution to the devastating decline in wild places and healthy wildlife populations happening today.  

Our aim is to put space for nature at the heart of our farming and planning systems; to bring nature into the places where most people live their daily lives.

To ensure this happens, we want to see a Nature Recovery Network adopted as part of Northern Ireland’s first ever Environment Strategy - read our consultation response. This is a joined-up system of places important for wild plants and animals, on land and at sea. It is a nationwide map for nature that identifies the corridors and areas of habitat where existing wildlife needs protecting, where wild spaces and places can be restored, and where we need to do more.

A legally-binding network for nature would mean that wildlife is prioritised when managing our land and planning our towns and villages.  Locally, Nature Recovery Maps would inform future planning and environmental subsidies for farmers, turning nature’s recovery from an aspiration to a reality.

Want to know more? Watch Sir David Attenborough explain our vision below.

Our vision for a Nature Recovery Network

Nature conservation in the last century succeeded in protecting some vital wildlife sites. However, wildlife has still declined. In 2016, the ‘State of Nature’ report showed that Northern Ireland is the most nature-depleted part of the UK. Sadly, the latest 2019 report shows no let-up in loss of wildlife. Most original habitats have gone and natural ecosystems are fragmented. One in five of our Northern Ireland’s native species face extinction.

With nature in critical condition, we know that protected wildlife sites alone are not enough to meet the needs of wildlife or our society. To achieve that, we also need to provide effective protection for the many other places in the landscape that are still rich in wildlife despite the many pressures they face.

And we must invest time, effort, commitment and money into bringing wildlife back across a far wider area – to join and stitch back together Northern Ireland’s tattered natural fabric of wild land.

We need to create a Nature Recovery Network that extends into every part of our towns, cities and countryside, bringing wildlife and the benefits of a healthy natural world into every part of life. Letting flowers bloom along road verges, installing green roofs across city skylines, planting more street trees to give people shady walks in the summer, encouraging whole communities to garden for wild plants and animals.

A network that brings wildlife into every neighbourhood would also provide fairer access to nature for people. Studies have shown the benefits of living close to nature, but many people are deprived of these benefits.

Other commitments needed to help nature recover

Alongside a Nature Recovery Network, we also want to see commitment to the following outcomes in Northern Ireland’s Environment Strategy to help put nature into recovery:

  • Farming subsidies which provide an incentive for farmers to farm in a way that helps protect the environment and support the objectives of the Strategy. 
  • Truly sustainable fisheries regulations to ensure recovery of our wild fish populations.
  • A ‘biodiversity net gain’ principle for housing and infrastructure developments – putting in place planning policies that make it mandatory for new developments to leave biodiversity in a better state than before.
  • Action on the climate crisis – we need plans to accelerate the decarbonisation of our economy particularly by investing in nature-based solutions including a significant increase in native tree planting and peatland restoration.
  • Environmental awareness included as part of the school’s curriculum with funding provided to make it easier for schools to take pupils on regular trips to natural spaces.   
  • An independent 'watchdog' body for Northern Ireland to scrutinise government progress, and sufficient resources and funding to implement the plan fully.