Lichfield District Biodiversity Strategy

The District Council approved its Biodiversity Strategy earlier this year and launched it publicly in April. Some of you may wonder what on earth this strategy is all about. The Society hope that this brief explanation will help.

The Strategy is about what we in Lichfield can do locally to contribute to the world effort of conserving our natural habitats and hence the species that depend on them. Over 100 species have become extinct in the U.K. over the last century. In Staffordshire alone and heathland covers less that 10% of its former extent. Between 1979 and 2000, Lichfield District has lost 80% of its broadleaved woodland. Since 1940 nearly all of our flower rich meadows have been destroyed. All so the lost goes on. These losses can have unforeseen consequences , because of the complex interrelationship of creatures to habitats, something that we are only now beginning to understand, especially the importance of the biological systems for our own well being. So the Strategy seeks to protect and enhance our natural resources and widen public understanding.

It does this by setting a number of demanding targets such as preventing the further loss of native woodland and creating new planting; limiting the loss of hedgerows; creating new hedgerows; promoting the management of unimproved grassland; halting the decline in the area of heathland; improving water habits; leading by example on Council owned sites, by additional tree planting, creating heathland, and supporting others in similar efforts; surveying churchyards for biodiversity interest; ensuring any planning applications before it do not breach wildlife legislation; creating new wildlife corridors; declaring new nature reserves and most importantly, actively promoting environmental education.

The list is long and its contents wide ranging. The aims and intentions are very laudable, but the question has to be asked "where are the means to initiate the actions? Where is the Action Plan which sets out the priorities? Where is the by whom, by when?" Some actions will come through the use of legal agreements with applicants for planning permission, some by working with other partners such as the Staffs Wildlife Trust and the National Forest Company, but some must be led and resourced by the District Council. All strategies can easily fall into the trap of becoming 'wish lists'. It is to be hoped that the excellent intentions of the strategy will be turned into positive action on the ground. This will need a resource commitment on the part of the District Council and not merely an intention, as stated in the plan to monitor its implementation. We look forward to seeing the targets set and to share the outcomes from the Plan in future years.

Lichfield Civic Society
April 2005