Achieving Environmental Growth across North East England
‘A thriving natural environment, providing for a healthier and wealthier North East’
The North East England Nature Partnership
Nature Partnerships came out of government with the NEENP being established in 2016. The partnership brings together 7 of the regions Local Authorities, NGO’s, business and Defra agencies to work collaboratively and achieve Environmental Growth by investing in our natural capital, to create landscapes that are resilient and adapted for a changing climate for the benefit of nature, communities and the economy across the North East of England.
We have responsibility for developing a shared strategic vision for the natural environment of North East England. Our work aims for the significant connections the natural environment has to our present and future health, wellbeing, learning and economic successes to be understood and accounted for by all.
Importantly, we are a broad partnership, representing many sectors from NGOs, business, Public Health England to Local Authorities demonstrating that through collaboration, and in understanding the value of the natural environment to every aspect of our lives, everyone can contribute to achieving Environmental Growth and reverse the decline that is currently happening to our wildlife and their habitats.
Achieving Environmental Growth
The North East England Nature Partnership launched a 20-year Vision for Environmental Growth, setting out opportunities to deliver improvements to the natural environment that are integrated with the enhancement of local communities and support economic success. The vision reinforces that we must work with other sectors to ensure the many benefits living in a nature rich environment brings and we have endeavoured to achieve this through our work themes.
Achieving Environmental Growth and investing in our natural capital is important because we have lost over half of our wildlife since the 1970’s. In ecological terms, UK biodiversity, the variety and abundance of species, has declined by 53% since the 1970s’. More than half of UK species have suffered declines in recent years and 15% are at risk of vanishing (State of Nature Report, Sept 2016). This decline is a worldwide problem as The Living Planet Report estimates that the world’s wildlife populations had halved over the last 40 years.
Why does this matter? Biodiversity matters because the presence of absence of species is an indicator of ecosystem health, these ecosystems provide services from nature such as; clean air, water, soil, climate regulation, pollination and so on and are the very things on which human health depends. Therefore, we should view biodiversity or the presence of species as an indicator of success and our reward for maintaining and enhancing natural, green and blue environments.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity: ‘Biological diversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.’
Prior to nature partnerships North East England had successful Biodiversity Action Partnerships that worked with wider partners such as Local Authorities and Wildlife Trusts to deliver local projects in support of biodiversity priorities.
The government introduced Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) in 2012 and by late 2013 we had 4 LNPs across the region; Northumberland, 3Rivers South of Tyne, Northern Upland Chain and Tees Valley.
In 2015 Northumberland and 3Rivers agreed to merge to make the best use of resources and geography, working across the lowland landscapes, extending 6 miles off shore to incorporate the marine environment (map).
Our new partnership then undertook an extensive consultation exercise in 2016 to ensure the Nature Partnership was still needed, wanted, fit for purpose and able to become economically independent and sustainable. We were pleased the consultation concluded that a Nature Partnership was wanted and needed but need to overcome funding challenges faced by the environment sector if it was to succeed. Outputs of this work included:
- Name change to the North East England Nature Partnership
- To have a regional presence and geography that reflects the 7 Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership and supports collaborative working.
- Regional brand holders for Investors in the Environment.
- Engage local businesses on sustainability and environment opportunities.
- Establish Capability North East & Capability Fund
- A charitable business to provide a not for profit environment consultancy
- Grow a North East England charitable fund to invest in landscape scale enhancements for the benefit of nature, people and communities.
We are now a partnership that will be sustained into the future and able to lead on the strategic environmental needs of our area.