Nature Networks Evidence Handbook (NERR081)

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Executive Summary
1. The overarching ambition of the Defra 25 Year Environmental Plan is to ‘leave our environment in a better state than we found it and to pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future’ (Defra 2018a). The plan highlights six key areas for action, one being to establish a Nature Recovery Network. This will protect and restore wildlife, as well as providing greater public enjoyment of the countryside; increased carbon capture; and improvements in water quality and flood management.
2. This handbook aims to help the designers of nature networks by identifying the principles of network design and describing the evidence that underpins the desirable features of nature networks. It builds on the Making Space for Nature report of Lawton et al. 2010), outlining some of the practical aspects of implementing a nature network plan, as well as describing the tools that are available to help in decision making.
3. To make a nature network, in contrast to an ecological network, we need to involve people from the earliest stages in planning and design, to create an overarching vision for the network, taking into account their needs and the services that a landscape provides to society.
4. When developing a more detailed plan for a nature network, it is important to consider the constraints and opportunities provided by the landscape, geology and ecosystems within the landscape, and the need to build resilience to climate change.
5. We provide a suite of ecological rules of thumb to aid practitioners, including a hierarchy of priority actions: (a) improve core wildlife sites; (b) increase the size of core sites; (c) increase the number of core sites; (d) improve the ‘permeability’ of the surrounding landscape for the movement of wildlife; and (e) create corridors of connecting habitat. In addition there is a need to develop a number of Large Nature Areas (c. 5-12,000 ha) within a country that will provide centres from which wildlife will brim over into the countryside.
6. When implementing the plans for a nature network there are various key practical aspects that need to be considered: working within the planning system, working with landowners and farmers and working with the natural processes that operate within a landscape.
7. We describe a number of mapping datasets and decision support tools that are available to help those planning a nature network, but their use needs to be carefully considered with respect to data quality, spatial scale, level of model complexity and uncertainty.
8. The main results of this evidence review are provided in a shorter Summary for Practitioners (Crick et al. 2020).

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NERR081 Edition 1 Nature Networks Evidence Handbook, PDF, 3.5 MB 2020/03/06

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Nature Networks - a summary for practitioners (NERR082)