What is Living Landscapes?
A Living Landscape for Surrey...
"Living Landscapes aim to link and create habitats to form large-scale areas rich in biodiversity, in order to secure a healthy long-term future for both wildlife and people..."
Our vision of a ‘Living Landscape’ is where our nature reserves and other protected natural open spaces are re-connected across the county, providing opportunities for rare wild plants and animals to interact and expand their populations. Centuries of human development have boxed our wildlife into rich yet isolated sites where there is little chance of survival in the long-term. The barriers to this vision are modern farmscapes, built-up areas and road networks. But ways can be found through and around these by creating wildlife-friendly corridors throughout the landscape.
In tandem, modern life-styles have conspired to disconnect people from nature and we are in danger of forgetting just how important the natural environment, and the services it provides (for example clean air and water), is to our health and well-being...
Climate change & wildlife
Wildlife is now also threatened by rapid future climate change. Naturally enough our concern has been focused on what this could mean for humankind - however our cherished wildlife will be suffering too.
Wildlife has evolved partly in response to climate changes but the pace of what’s in store over the coming decades is new territory. The modern fragmented landscape will deny plants and animals in nature hotspots a chance to retreat ahead of the changing conditions, and without a connected network of escape routes they will become marooned and surely die out. How this will impact the wider environment and the crucial services it supports is still unclear, but could be catastrophic. To find out more about climate change and threats to wildlife, visit The Wildlife Trusts’ website (www.wildlifetrusts.org).
Towards a Living Landscape...
We can all play a role in this shared vision of a Living Landscape. At the Surrey Wildlife Trust we intend to adopt a landscape-scale approach in all that we do; in the way we manage and acquire land, in our work with local Surrey communities and outdoor education, and by influencing Surrey’s planning authorities, farmers and other owners and managers of green open spaces. As a general guide our efforts will follow the ‘4 x Cs’ principle:-
• Conserve – continue to manage protected wildlife hotspots in peak adaptive condition;
• Create – new wildlife-rich sites and corridors targeted between these hotspots to:-
• Connect - them up. We will also make sure to involve local people in the important decisions to allow this to happen.
• Celebrate – the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and the success in achieving our vision for all Surrey society.
Our Living Landscapes Policy Documnet can be downloaded here:A Living Landscape for Surrey
How you can help
So how can everyone help in all this? Our towns and villages make up a huge area of Surrey - some 12% in fact - and your garden is the first place to start. It is here where we enjoy our most regular contact with the natural world, where wildlife can be welcomed and nurtured on our own doorstep using some simple but proven gardening methods. At the same time we can lower our personal Carbon footprint through the way we run our houses - addressing the causes of climate change in a small but important way. In parts of Surrey, gardens extend and buffer adjacent wildlife hotspots and natural open spaces, thus becoming our ‘Gateways to a Living Landscape..’
Like-minded neighbours can join voluntary conservation groups, and set about transforming local open spaces for the benefit of both wildlife and people. Our Surrey Greenspace Project can help to set up or put you in touch with existing groups, talk with your local council, and assist with buying equipment and applying for grants. Download our leaflet ‘Your Gateway to a Living Landscape’ to find out more on ways you can help..
Your Gateway to a Living Landscape leaflet
For more information or to discuss these ideas further, contact the Trust’s Living Landscapes Officer, Mike Waite on 07854 163664.