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A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts. It is a new way of thinking about how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people and the economy.

All county Wildlife Trusts now align their direction and activity to the collective mission that this entails. In 2009 Surrey Wildlife Trust published A Living Landscape for Surrey, advocating wider recognition of the need for wildlife conservation to now proceed on a landscape scale, if we are to stem the tide of continuing biodiversity losses into the 21st century.

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The Wildlife of Surrey

Surrey has an enviable variety of wildlife habitats, ranging from the chalk grasslands and ancient woodlands of the North Downs, through scarce grazing marshes beside the rivers Thames, Wey and Mole to the extensive heaths and bogs characterising the west of the county.

Surrey has managed to retain a higher proportion of its original biodiversity than most. However, only an estimated 16% of Surrey retains any special value for wildlife. These habitats support around 88 nationally protected species and over 270 that are in steep decline and therefore prioritised for conservation action. At least 74 in this category have not been seen for over 40 years and are most likely already locally extinct.

In A Living Landscape:

  • Wildlife is abundant and flourishing, both in the countryside and towns and cities
  • Whole landscapes and ecosystems have been restored
  • Wildlife is able to move freely through these landscapes and adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Communities are benefitting fully from the fundamental services that healthy ecosystems provide
  • Everyone has access to wildlife-rich green spaces and can enjoy and be inspired by the natural world

Our vision of a Living Landscape in Surrey...

1. Permeable farmland
Traditionally managed hedgerows, ditches and field margins, riverbank buffer-strips, new field ponds and linking shelter-belts: all re-connecting the landscape and allowing wildlife to move. 
2. Managed native woodlands
Reinstated coppice management cycles, driven by a local and sustainably-paced demand for wood fuel and hardwood timber products.
3. Golf course nature reserves
Roughs and fairways managed to support wildlife, new features such as tree-lines and wetland hazards, self-sufficient irrigation and declining use of damaging fertilisers and pesticides.
4. Churchyard wildlife
Ancient relict pastures mown so as to sustain wildlfowers, havens for rare mosses and lichens on headstones, belfry bat roosts: a place where nature can also rest in peace.
5. Nature Reserves
Exemplars of balanced and well-informed wildlife management, extended widely through advice and negotiation with adjacent landholders, such as farmers, timber-growers and departing aggregates companies.
6. Wildlife gardening
Imagine every Surrey gardener helping the wildlife on their patch! Wildflower lawns, bird feeders, nest-boxes, composting and vegetable growing transforming Surrey’s 12% of back-garden land.
7. Transport infrastructure as wildlife corridors
Road verges, green bridges, rail-sides and canals, managed as natural highways letting wildlife migrate throughout the landscape.
8. River corridors
Restored to function more naturally within their floodplain, with enhanced water quality, water meadows, reinstated meanders and ox-bows, plus the removal of migratory barriers.
9. Wildlife-friendly built environment
With green roofs and walls, on-site surface drainage schemes and grey water recycling, as well as bespoke wildlife habitat enhancements for nesting birds and roosting bats.
10. Community greenspaces & school grounds
With playing field margins and habitat corners supporting more tree-cover, strips of long grass and meadows, wildlife ponds and outdoor nature study areas. 



FilenameFile size
A Living Landscape_for Surrey.pdf3.43 MB
SWT Living Landscape Strategy.pdf3.34 MB