AN ambitious ten-year plan to protect wildlife, conserve habitats and help ensure nature flourishes in Leicester has been launched by the city council.
The new Leicester Biodiversity Action Plan 2021-31 sets out how the city council and its partners will focus nature conservation work on wildlife habitats and species that are most in need of help to make sure that local biodiversity thrives.
The new plan is guided by four strategic ambitions for the next ten years:
- To bring at least 30 per cent of the city’s greenspace under council management for the benefit of wildlife
- To establish a citywide Nature Recovery Network by creating around 25 per cent more green corridors linking parks and other local greenspace
- Reduce the prevalence and incidence of non-native invasive species while taking action to conserve and protected priority native species to help with their recovery
- To reduce the use of pesticides on council land by at least half
For the first time, the Leicester Biodiversity Action Plan includes actions to protect specific species including Peregrines, Swifts, Water Vole, Hedgehogs, Black Redstart and Otters.
It will also see more wildflower planting on roadside verges; the restoration and creation of new hedgerows to help create wildlife corridors; more tree planting to increase woodland cover; and a continuation of work to improve the city’s riverside as a great place for wildlife to thrive and for people to visit. There are also plans to create more areas of grassland and wetland, both of which provide rich habitats for a variety of wildlife.
The new plan also sets out the importance of raising local awareness of issues facing wildlife and encouraging more active participation in nature conservation across local communities.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Back in the 1980s, I was proud to be involved in establishing the city’s first ever ecology strategy. A huge amount has been achieved since then – we now have more wetlands, meadows and woodland across the city’s network of nature reserves and parks. Water quality in the river has also improved immensely so we now get Otters and Egrets in the heart of the city.
“In recent years, we have seen how new investment can revitalise the city’s waterways, with new nature areas like the award-winning Ellis Meadows providing fantastic stop-off points for wildlife and for people.
“We have a fantastic foundation to build on and that is exactly what the new Leicester Biodiversity Action Plan sets out to do. We want to create a city that remains rich in biodiversity and ensure that people continue to have access to the vast range of nature on our doorsteps, now and for future generations.”
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “Protecting and enhancing biodiversity and recognising the critical role that planning for nature plays in Leicester’s sustainable development are both vital elements of the city’s response to the climate emergency.
“Planting thousands of new trees; creating wetland habitats and sustainable drainage as part of our flood risk strategy; transforming roadside verges into wildflower meadows; and even making our new bus shelters more bee-friendly with living roofs, are all measures that will make a positive impact and play an important part in helping wildlife and people cope with a changing climate.”
Dr Helen O'Brien, senior conservation officer at Leicester City Council, added: “In developing this new action plan, we recognise the critical role that nature must play in the future development of the city and the huge value that biodiversity brings to everyone who lives here.
“It sets out clear targets to achieve over the next decade to help enhance and protect local biodiversity, put nature into recovery and secure sustainable healthy ecosystems for future generations.”
The new Leicester Biodiversity Action Lan 2021-2031 is available to view online at www.leicester.gov.uk/promoting-biodiversity