The Wildlife Trusts’ vision of a Living Landscape
A Living Landscape is our vision for the future of Britain’s land mass. It is one of the biggest conservation plans in British history; ambitious, exciting and challenging. It aims to work with people and communities to restore damaged and fragmented blocks of habitat; to reconnect these habitats and link them to the green space in our cities, towns and villages; and to rebuild nature in our midst so that we can benefit from the essential services it provides. It is the aspirational end-point where Britain’s environment, society and economy co-exist for the benefit of wildlife and people. And beyond the coast, the connections will continue to create Living Seas.
To achieve The Wildlife Trust’s vision of A Living Landscape, acceleration of effort to think bigger and longer term is required: whole river catchments, robust habitat complexes, entire tracts of upland and major coastal realignment; ambitious landscape-scale objectives that may take many decades to achieve. Together with local and national partners, the Trusts hope to create Living Landscapes that support, provide, inspire and renew.
What is a Living Landscape scheme?
Living Landscape schemes are the Trusts’ on-the-ground contribution to the Living Landscape vision. Each scheme is an ecologically functioning landscape (such as a river catchment) that can adapt to climate change; provide resilience and connectivity for wildlife; access, enjoyment and inspiration for people and a sustainable, low carbon contribution to the economy. By creating and linking a series of Living Landscape schemes across the UK, we will develop a network of high-quality natural areas for people and wildlife.
A Living Landscape scheme consists of:
a) Core areas of high quality habitat – Trust reserves, protected areas, SSSIs and so on. The nodes or centres for future colonisation when the overall landscape is enhanced.
b) Inter-linkages between core areas; not just corridors, but stepping stones - functional connectivity across a landscape, not just physical connectivity, effectively turning a landscape of isolated patches into one large unit.
c) Permeability across the whole landscape. Land between core areas and functional connections should be permeable to wildlife movement. It may not be preferred habitat but could be sub-optimal habitat, allowing movement if not long-term survival. Actions here centre on de-intensified land use.
Living Landscapes in London
London Wildlife Trust is dedicated to delivering the Wildlife Trusts’ ‘Living Landscape’ approach in London. Although London is a big city with lots of development pressures, it has a high proportion of green space, and there is great potential to deliver landscape-level conservation projects.
London’s unique characteristics mean that Living Landscape models used by many rural Wildlife Trusts are not relevant to much of the capital. However, the Trust believes there are Living Landscapes principles that could and should be applied to its work, for the benefit of London’s wildlife and the city.
London's Living Landscapes are now being developed in nine areas, to complement other strategic initaitives such as the All London Green Grid, and the Greater Thames Marshes NIA.