The AHDA totally support Chris Gannaway’s concerns for the future of nature conservation in Redbridge detailed below. If, having read this, you have the same concerns please feel free to circulate, contact your local councillors and the relevant members of the Redbridge Cabinet. Suggested <Contact List> <AHDA EMAIL to Councillors and other interested parties>
It’s is getting on for 6 months since Francis Castro the Nature Conservation Senior Ranger left Redbridge, to join the GLA.
Vision RCL are now recruiting for a replacement but have carried out major change to the person specification, the role is now that of a Conservation and Country Parks manager. There is no wider remit outside of the parks service and no direct delivery of service. Ecology or associated qualifications plus chartership are down as desirable? (see the Appendix in the attached document)
Chris has a wealth of experience and was the Borough’s representative on the London Wildlife Trust for many years and has been an invaluable resource not only to the Borough but for many volunteer groups.
We believe we need to have a accredited Ecologist for Redbridge, and whilst it is understandable the Council may want a ‘do all’ person, I believe this is short sighted in terms of what is clearly a rapidly changing and challenging environment.
The London Borough of Redbridge Nature Conservation Section Future?
This discussion document is written to hopefully clarify the need to maintain the future role of a Nature conservation section within the LB Redbridge. Whether it is in Vision RCL or directly within the Council structure or across both organisations? Along with the need for a qualified and experienced Borough Ecologist as part of the team.
The need to write it has been brought about the resignation of the senior Nature Conservation Ranger late in 2022 from Vision RCL who doubled as the Borough Ecologist and the intention to now change the role in Vision RCL to a Conservation & Country Parks Manager and possibly add a role within LBR Planning it is considered that the interactions with the general public and private sites and other facets will fall through the gaps between the roles.
The points made are not exclusive but are intended to highlight the extreme variation and knowledge now needed to carry out all this work plus an in-depth local knowledge will need to be built up by any recruit(s) to the position(s)
This is assuming that Redbridge Council intends to fully staff the team rather than take the decision that Nature Conservation is not a necessary function it has to fulfil even though it has a rich mosaic of habitats in its care.
It is written by someone that has been involved with Redbridge nature for over 35 years and has served until recently as the Borough Representative for the London Wildlife Trust and for a large part of those 35 years and has worked closely with the incumbent Nature Conservation Officers/Rangers.
Below is a selection of arguments that go towards justifying the extra resources that will be needed to fully deliver nature conservation in the future that meets the local, national and international needs.
1. The consequences of losing/reducing the Nature Conservation Service in London Borough of Redbridge
The loss/reduction of the Nature Conservation Service in the London Borough of Redbridge could have severe consequences for the local habitat and wildlife. The Environment Act 2021, which now serves as the UK’s new framework for environmental protection, aims to improve biodiversity and protect species which has to work at a local level . However, without the support of a dedicated Nature Conservation Service, the local ecosystem could be at risk. The loss of this service/reduction could result in a decline in the number of protected species and the degradation of natural habitats, which could have far-reaching consequences for the environment and the community. You don’t know what’s lost till it’s gone!
The potential harm to the local ecosystem is not the only issue that could arise from the loss of the Nature Conservation Service. The community’s perception of green spaces could also be adversely affected. Green spaces provide numerous benefits to the community, including opportunities for physical activity, mental health benefits, and improved air quality. Without proper conservation efforts, these spaces could become ecologically degraded with less public benefit, ultimately leading to a detrimental effect on the community’s health and well-being .
The loss of the Nature Conservation Service could also have legal implications. The Environment Act 2021 contains many measures designed to protect the environment, including laws on water quality, clean air, and habitat protections . Without a dedicated Nature Conservation Service, it may be more difficult to enforce these laws and ensure that they are being followed. This could result in a further deterioration of the environment and a loss of protection for the community and its natural resources.
- The UK Environment Act – what’s happening now?.https://www.clientearth.org/latest/latest-updates/news/why-the-uk-environment-bill-matters/
- The Environment Act 2021 – a turning point for Nature.https://naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/2021/11/23/the-environment-act-2021-a-turning-point-for-nature/
- The Environment Act 2021.https://thecompliancepeople.co.uk/updates/legal/the-environment-act-2021/
- UK environment laws under threat in ‘deregulatory free-for-all’.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/23/uk-environment-laws-under-threat-in-deregulatory-free-for-all
2. The impact of the Nature Conservation Team on the London Borough of Redbridge and local wildlife organisations
The Nature Conservation Team has provided significant value to the London Borough of Redbridge. As custodians of nature in the Borough, the team is responsible for protecting and improving spaces for wildlife . Through their efforts, they ensure that these areas are preserved and carefully managed, which not only protects the ecology of the Borough but also contributes to the overall health and well-being of the community . The team’s work is essential in maintaining the natural beauty of the Borough and preserving its biodiversity.
The Nature Conservation Team has fulfilled its outputs in terms of biodiversity land management, health and well-being, and informal education. The team manages open spaces for wildlife, maintains parks to provide sources of food for wildlife, and plants trees to enhance the natural beauty of the Borough . Their work also contributes to informal education by providing opportunities for members of the community to learn about the environment and wildlife . The team’s efforts have resulted in sustained biodiversity and the preservation of natural habitats in the Borough.
If the Nature Conservation Team were to be closed or reduced, local wildlife organisations would be affected. The team’s work is essential in preserving and managing natural habitats, which is critical for the survival of many species. The loss of this team would result in a significant reduction in the resources available to these organisations, making it more difficult for them to carry out their work. The closure of the Nature Conservation Team would also have a negative impact on the health and well-being of the community, as the loss of natural spaces and biodiversity would have a detrimental effect on the environment and the people who live in it.
- Nature conservation.https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/leisure-sport-and-the-arts/nature-conservation/
- Nature Conservation Team.https://visionrcl.org.uk/parks-outdoor-spaces/nature-conservation/nature-conservation-team/
- Redbridge’s first ‘Tiny Forest’ planted in South Park.https://earthwatch.org.uk/component/k2/tiny-forest-redbridge
- Keeping Redbridge Wild. https://visionrcl.org.uk/parks-outdoor-spaces/keeping-redbridge-wild/
3. The impact of local demand and leisure pressure on various sites in the area
The natural areas, such as Fairlop Plain, Claybury Woods, and Hainault Forest CP, Wanstead Flats etc are facing the impact of local demand and leisure pressure. These areas are being used for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, informal sports, which can lead to soil erosion and damage to the natural habitats of plants and wildlife. Additionally, the increase in foot traffic can lead to the destruction of vegetation and the introduction of non-native species, which can have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem. The local authorities need to implement measures to regulate the use of these areas to ensure their long-term sustainability and protection.
Public parks and green spaces, including Wanstead Flats and Epping Forest Land, are also facing the impact of local demand and leisure pressure. These areas are popular destinations for picnics, sports activities, and other leisure pursuits, which can lead to overcrowding and damage to the park’s infrastructure. The increase in visitors can also lead to littering and vandalism, which can have a negative impact on the park’s aesthetics and safety and wildlife. The local authorities need to implement measures to manage the use of these areas to ensure that they remain accessible and enjoyable for all visitors as well as safety for the wildlife and habitats.
Non-leisure sites, such as cemeteries, road verges, shrubberies, and sports fields, are also facing the impact of local demand and pressure. Cemeteries are often used as shortcuts or for dog-walking, which can lead to damage to the graves and disrespect for the deceased. Road verges and shrubberies are often used for parking and dumping of waste, which can lead to unsightly and hazardous conditions. Sports fields are often overused, leading to damage to the turf and facilities. The local authorities need to implement measures to regulate the use of these areas to ensure their proper upkeep and respect for their intended purpose.
4. The Importance of Nature Conservation Volunteering and its Impact on Health, Wildlife, and the Environment
Nature conservation volunteering has been shown to have numerous health benefits for individuals who participate. Volunteering in nature conservation activities allows individuals to engage in physical activity, which can lead to improved physical health and fitness . Additionally, being in nature has been linked to reduced stress levels and improved mental health . Studies have also shown that prioritizing nature conservation in areas that directly benefit humans can lead to more equitable and just conservation decisions . Therefore, nature conservation volunteering not only benefits the environment but also has positive impacts on the health and well-being of individuals who participate.
The duty of care relating to UK legislation for wildlife and the environment is a crucial aspect of nature conservation volunteering. The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 and the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 are examples of legislation that protect wildlife and the environment in the UK . The recently passed Environment Act of 2021 aims to protect and restore the natural environment, including biodiversity and ecosystems . As volunteers engaging in nature conservation activities, individuals have a duty of care to ensure that they are following these laws and regulations to protect the wildlife and environment they are working to conserve  and therefore the leaders of work parties have to be knowledgeable on biodiversity aspects. By fulfilling this duty of care, volunteers can contribute to the long-term sustainability of the environment and its wildlife.
- Nature conservation.
- Human health and nature conservation – PMC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1289309/
3. Protecting areas most important to people will benefit nature too https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/protecting-areas-important-to-people-benefits-nature-too
4. UK Wildlife Law. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/uk-wildlife-law
5. The importance of Redbridge land in London and UK SINCs context
Redbridge land in London and the UK is of importance in the context Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs). SINCs are designated areas that are recognized for their significant contribution to the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife habitats . Redbridge land has been identified as an important area for conservation due to its diverse range of habitats and wildlife, including rare and endangered species . This was outlined in the 1998 Redbridge Nature Conservation Strategy and carried forward into the Mayor of London’s 2002 Biodiversity Strategy.
1. Connecting with London’s Nature. (Mayor of London 2002) note the Redbridge Nature Conservation Strategy 1998 predates online referencing https://www.london.gov.uk/media/30762/download
2. Nature conservation.https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/leisure-sport-and-the-arts/nature-conservation/
6. The role of London Borough of Redbridge Nature Conservation Officer(s) in protecting biodiversity and addressing global environmental challenges
The London Borough of Redbridge Nature Conservation Officer(s) must play a crucial role in protecting and conserving the biodiversity of Redbridge. Their responsibilities include managing and monitoring local habitats, developing conservation plans, and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.
As part of their role, they should work closely with local communities and organisations to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and encourage participation in conservation efforts. By actively engaging with the local community, the Nature Conservation Officer(s) can promote a culture of conservation and help protect the natural environment in Redbridge.
The role of the Nature Conservation Officer(s) in Redbridge is also significant in the context of global environmental challenges. The COP15 summit which took place late 2022, aims to address the global biodiversity crisis, highlights the urgent need for action to protect and conserve biodiversity . The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2022 reports have also highlighted the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, emphasizing the need for immediate action to protect and restore ecosystems . In this context, the role of the Nature Conservation Officer(s) in Redbridge becomes even more critical as they can contribute to the global effort to protect biodiversity by implementing conservation measures on a local level.
Collaboration with organisations such as Wildlife Trusts via London Wildlife Trust, RSPB local group, Woodland Trust etc can help the Ecology and Nature Conservation Officer(s) in Redbridge address losses in biodiversity and promote conservation efforts.
The recent Wild Isles TV series, which highlights the loss of wildlife and habitats across the UK, can/has raised awareness about the importance of conservation efforts with the public .
The UK government’s recent initiative to increase private finance to protect and restore nature also provides an opportunity for collaboration with said organizations  . By working together, the Nature Conservation Officer(s) in Redbridge and these organisations can develop effective conservation strategies and promote a culture of conservation in the local community .
- COP15 ends with landmark biodiversity agreement
- WWF: UK Prime Minister must secure agreement for nature. https://www.wwf.org.uk/press-release/wwf-uk-prime-minister-must-secure-agreement-nature-cop15
- Can capitalism and nature coexist?
- Leaders gather at London event in support of UN Nature https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leaders-gather-at-london-event-in-support-of-un-nature-cop15-agreement
- ‘We are at war with nature’: UN environment chief warns of https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/06/cop-15-un-chief-biodiversity-apocalypse
- Wild Isles
7. The role of the Redbridge Nature Conservation Team in promoting and implementing the Nature Conservation Strategy 1998
The Redbridge Nature Conservation Team has played a vital role in promoting and implementing the Nature Conservation Strategy in the borough. The Strategy, which was put into place in 1998, aimed to improve wildlife habitat in local parks, country parks, green spaces, and woodlands. Its goal was to protect and conserve the rich diversity of nature in Redbridge’s open spaces, not just for the present but for future generations as well. The Mayor of London Biodiversity Strategy 2022 recognised the importance of biodiversity conservation for human well-being and aimed to ensure that there was no overall loss of wildlife habitats in London .
The Redbridge Nature Conservation Team has taken actions to promote the Nature Conservation Strategy. They have been managing open spaces for wildlife, protecting and improving spaces for wildlife, and maintaining parks to ensure the sources of food for wildlife are not lost . They have also been working with volunteers to maintain the parks and green spaces . The team was actively involved in consultations to ensure that the Strategy was implemented effectively. Their efforts have helped to raise awareness about the importance of nature conservation and the need to protect and conserve the biodiversity in the borough.
Despite the efforts of the Redbridge Nature Conservation Team, the Nature Conservation Strategy has not been fully implemented due to several challenges. The limited financial and human resources have been a significant challenge in implementing the Strategy. The ongoing development and urbanization of the borough have also posed a threat to the open spaces and wildlife habitats. However, the depleted team has been making ongoing efforts to address these challenges and ensure that the Strategy was implemented effectively.
However it has to be recognised that this 25 year old strategy should be now replaced with a cross council Biodiversity Recovery Strategy and Plan.
- Connecting with London’s Nature. (Mayor of London) note the Redbridge Nature Conservation Strategy 1998 predates online referencing https://www.london.gov.uk/media/30762/download
- Keeping Redbridge Wild.
- Nature conservation.
8. Key components of the Nature Recovery Strategy/Plan for Redbridge replacing the Nature Conservation Strategy 1998
Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) are a new system of spatial strategies that will establish priorities and map proposals for nature recovery across England . The forthcoming national biodiversity strategy will set out the government’s vision to protect and restore nature.
By implementing these measures the Nature Recovery Strategy for Redbridge would include key components aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change. These measures would be designed to protect and restore natural habitats, which in turn can help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by storing carbon within the habitat.
Education will play a crucial role in the Nature Recovery Strategy for Redbridge. The strategy should recognise the importance of environmental education and the role it can play in fostering a deeper appreciation for nature and the need to protect it. The Nature Conservation and Forest Rangers in Redbridge work with children from the borough and surrounding areas through environmental education programmes  though I believe this is only scratching the surface at present. What is needed in the strategy is the full involvement of education and children’s services with the aim to address the impact of climate change and the affects related to the natural world similar to Brighton & Hove strategy . The upcoming Nature GCSE can also play a role in promoting environmental education and awareness . By investing in education, Redbridge can help to create a more informed and engaged public that is committed to protecting the natural environment.
The involvement across council, Vision RCL, NGOs, and public participation is the key component of the Nature Recovery Strategy for Redbridge. The council must be committed to managing open spaces for wildlife and organising public events and school trips Vision RCL is the council’s leisure provider, which manages parks, open spaces, and cultural facilities in Redbridge. NGOs such as The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Woodland Trust, WWF, PlantLife and other localised flora/forna orientated organisations are also working towards nature recovery. Public participation is essential for the future success of the strategy/plan, and the council must encourage residents to get involved in local conservation efforts.
By working together, Redbridge can create a more sustainable and resilient future for its residents and the environment.
- Local Nature Recovery Strategies: how to prepare and what to include .https://consult.defra.gov.uk/land-use/local-nature-recovery-strategies/
- Nature recovery for local authorities
- Environmental Education in Redbridge • Vision RCL. https://visionrcl.org.uk/environmental-education-in-redbridge-new/
- Brighton and Hove Climate Change, Sustainability and Environmental Education Programme https://www.ourcityourworld.co.uk/our-city-our-world/strategy/
- Green light for GCSE in Natural History https://teach.ocr.org.uk/naturalhistory
9. Duty of care to protect the environment and biodiversity
The Environment Act 2021 aims to protect and improve the environment, and promote biodiversity conservation. The Act introduces new statutory requirements that will strengthen this objective, such as the creation of new local nature recovery strategies/plans . The duty of care to the environment under the Environment Act 2021 requires individuals and organizations to take responsibility for their actions and prevent harm to the environment. This includes protecting natural habitats, conserving biodiversity, and reducing pollution and waste . The duty of care is an important concept that helps ensure the sustainable use and management of natural resources.
The duty of care extends to protecting JNCC Red and Amber species  and threatened London habitats. The legislation aims to protect native wildlife, particularly threatened species, regulate non-native/invasive species, and protect areas of natural. The JNCC Red and Amber species are those that are at risk of becoming extinct or are experiencing a significant decline in population. It is our responsibility to take measures to protect these species and their habitats. Similarly, threatened London habitats , such as woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands, require protection and management to ensure their survival and the survival of the species that depend on them.
Biodiversity recording and surveys are essential for understanding the state of biodiversity and identifying areas that require protection and management. The Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL) is the London Biodiversity Records Centre, it provides valuable resources for recording biodiversity and conducting surveys . These resources help individuals and organizations to identify and monitor biodiversity, and inform conservation and management decisions. By utilizing these resources, we can better understand the biodiversity in our local areas and take steps to protect and conserve it for future generations.
- Biodiversity duty: public authority duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity https://www.gov.uk/guidance/biodiversity-duty-public-authority-duty-to-have-regard-to-conserving-biodiversity
2. Conservation Designations for UK taxa
3. London’s BAP priority habitats
4. Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC (GiGL) https://www.gigl.org.uk/about-gigl/
10. The long delay in the review of the London Borough of Redbridge Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)
Regular reviews of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) are essential to ensure that these sites are adequately protected and managed. The London Borough of Redbridge has failed to conduct a single review of its SINCs since 1997 when they were originally surveyed, which is well beyond the recommended review period of 5-10 years . This delay in the review process could have serious consequences for the biodiversity and local environment of the borough.
The failure to conduct regular reviews of SINCs in the 26 year period is a cause for concern. This delay could result in the loss of important habitats and species, as well as the degradation of the local environment. The Local Plan plays a crucial role in the protection and management of SINCs, and failure to conduct regular reviews could result in the inadequate protection of these sites. It is imperative that the London Borough of Redbridge conducts a review of its SINCs immediately to ensure that these sites are adequately protected and managed for the long-term sustainability of its local environment.
The Review/Survey should as well as existing SINC’s, include sites that were not included in the original list e.g. cemeteries/churchyards, allotments, Chadwell Millennium Green, Redbridge Lakes, parts of New development sites ie Billet Road etc. along with any survey of existing Green Connecting Corridors to the sites.
- ADVICE NOTE London Wildlife Sites Board
Process for selecting and confirming Sites of Importance for Nature
Conservation (SINCs) in Greater London https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sinc_selection_process_2019_update_.pdf
11. Responsibilities of managing local parks and green spaces and other sites
One of the primary responsibilities of managing the Biodiversity of local parks and green spaces is updating the management plans for each area these should help with the investment of resources into the long term up keep of these said spaces. This includes green spaces such as Fairlop Plain lands, Hainault Forest, Claybury Park, Roding Valley Park, and others. These plans should outline the goals and objectives for each park, as well as strategies for achieving them. Updating the plans ensures that they remain relevant and effective in meeting the needs of the community and the environment/biodiversity. This involves working closely with community groups, stakeholders, and local authorities to gather input and feedback on the plans. By regularly updating the management plans, these sites can continue to thrive and provide a valuable resource for the community. Examples
Another important responsibility for the Nature Conservation officer(s) is coordinating with the Redbridge Tenants Liaison Group. This group serves as a liaison between the tenants and the local authorities on land use biodiversity issues, providing a platform for tenants and residents to voice their concerns and suggestions regarding managed green spaces in the area. By maintaining this coordination, Nature Conservation officer(s) can ensure that the needs and concerns of the tenants are being addressed and that the land is being managed in a way that benefits the community/nature as a whole. To my knowledge there has been only one group meeting in the last 26 years.
Monitoring and preparing output and outcome statistics is also a crucial responsibility for managing the biodiversity of green spaces. This involves tracking the usage green spaces, as well as the impact that they have on the community and the biodiversity. By collecting and analysing this data, officers can identify areas for improvement/management and make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and prioritise projects.
Additionally, preparing funding bids is necessary to secure the resources needed to implement these projects and maintain the green spaces over time. By fulfilling these responsibilities, officers can ensure that green spaces continue to provide a valuable resource for the community, and maintain biodiversity now and in the future.
12. Responsibilities of a Coordinator for Nature Recovery Strategy and Plan
As a Coordinator the Nature Conservation officer(s) for Nature Recovery Strategy and Plan, one of the primary responsibilities is to provide support and coordination for subordinate staff and contractors/consultants. This includes overseeing the work of the team and ensuring that all tasks and projects are completed on time and to the required standard working to the approved outline. The coordinator must also ensure that all team members are working together effectively and that any issues or concerns are addressed promptly. Alongside this is the need to work with the NGOs and other interested parties via a working group as they will be crucial for the successful development and implementation of the Nature Recovery Strategy and Plan .
In addition to providing support and coordination for staff and contractors and liaising with consultants, the officer(s) is also responsible for imparting knowledge to the public through informal education and responding to inquiries. This includes organizing walks and talks to educate the public about the importance of nature in an informal way.
The officer(s) must also respond to any inquiries from the public and ensure that accurate and up-to-date information is provided. This is important for engaging the public and ensuring that they are aware of the strategy and plan and the benefits it will bring to the community.
1. Local Nature Recovery Strategies: how to prepare and what to https://consult.defra.gov.uk/land-use/local-nature-recovery-strategies/
- Nature recovery FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.local.gov.uk/pas/topics/environment/nature-recovery-local-authorities/nature-recovery-faqs
- Local Nature Recovery Strategy Overview. https://bucksmknep.co.uk/nature-strategy/overview/
- Rewild London Fund 2022 | GLA. https://www.london.gov.uk/publications/rewild-london-fund-2022
- Nature recovery for local authorities.https://www.local.gov.uk/pas/topics/environment/nature-recovery-local-authorities
13. Strategies for promoting and preserving biodiversity in the borough
The preservation of private land and gardens is crucial for promoting and preserving biodiversity in the borough. Private gardens and green spaces provide habitats for a variety of species, including birds, bees, and butterflies. Encouraging residents to incorporate native plants and trees in their gardens can help create a network of green spaces that support local wildlife. Furthermore, private landowners can participate in conservation programmes that provide incentives for preserving and enhancing biodiversity on their properties. By recognising the value of private land in promoting biodiversity, we can ensure that the borough’s natural resources are protected for future generations . Though the motto should be Right Tree Right Place
Linkage of both the Private lands and public lands via Natural Green Corridor’s wherever possible must be carried through to the planning process such that a network of wildlife sites are fully interconnected.
Mass tree planting is an effective strategy for promoting biodiversity and helping to combat climate change. Trees and woodlands help combat air pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, and provide habitats for wildlife . The borough can coordinate mass tree planting initiatives to create new woodland areas, which can provide habitats for a range of species and help to mitigate the effects of climate change. The borough can also partner with neighbouring boroughs and organizations to implement coordinated tree planting efforts, which can have a greater impact on promoting biodiversity and to help combat climate change. By planting trees, we can create a healthier and more sustainable environment for all.
- Trees and woodlands | London City Hall. https://www.london.gov.uk/programmes-strategies/environment-and-climate-change/parks-green-spaces-and-biodiversity/trees-and-woodlands
- EU forests: Commission adopts new guidelines to support tree https://environment.ec.europa.eu/news/eu-forests-commission-adopts-new-guidelines-support-tree-planting-actions-and-protect-old-growth-2023-03-21_en
14. Supporting Biodiversity Planning in Redbridge for Environment Act 2021 and Large Scale Development
The Environment Act 2021 has introduced a new requirement for developments to provide at least a 10% biodiversity net gain . Biodiversity net gain is the difference between the biodiversity value of a development site before and after development, and it is intended to ensure that new developments contribute to the overall increase in biodiversity As a result, it is essential to understand the implications of this requirement for biodiversity via planning in Redbridge. This includes identifying key areas for protection and implementing measures to achieve the required net gain.
Assessing the current state of biodiversity in Redbridge is crucial for effective biodiversity planning. This involves identifying areas of high ecological value and prioritizing their protection ie SINCS, SSSIs, green corridors etc. Additionally, it is important to assess the potential impact of large-scale developments on biodiversity in general and identify measures to mitigate these impacts. Submissions for planning permission must include assessments demonstrating a commitment to achieving the required biodiversity net gain . By conducting a thorough assessment of biodiversity in Redbridge, it will be possible to identify the areas that require protection and those of deficiency and develop effective strategies for achieving the required net gain.
Determining the staffing levels required for effective biodiversity planning and implementation is essential. This includes identifying the necessary expertise and resources required to carry out assessments, develop mitigation measures, and monitor progress towards achieving the required net gain. It is important to ensure that there are sufficient staff levels to effectively manage and implement the biodiversity planning process, especially with large-scale developments planned . By providing adequate staffing levels, it will be possible to ensure that biodiversity planning is effectively implemented and that the required net gain is achieved.
- The Environment Act 2021: a practical look at the new ….https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/events-insights-news/the-environment-act-2021-a-practical-look-at-the-new-biodiversity-requirement.html
- Guidance Understanding biodiversity net gain https://www.gov.uk/guidance/understanding-biodiversity-net-gain
- The Environment Act 2021 and Biodiversity Net Gain.https://collingtonwinter.com/blog/the-environment-act-2021-and-biodiversity-net-gain/
- The Environment Act 2021: Biodiversity Net Gain – Reading ….https://www.fsp-law.com/the-environment-act-2021-biodiversity-net-gain/
- UK Environment Act 2021 and Biodiversity Net Gain.https://www.wkcgroup.com/news/uk-environment-act-2021-and-biodiversity-net-gain/
15. Job descriptions /qualifications/ experience needed by officers to deliver Nature Conservation in the future?
If the proceeding arguments are accepted and along with the intention of Vision RCL to change the Senior Nature Conservation Ranger/ Borough Ecologist role to that of a Conservation & Country Parks Manager we would ask who, where and how is the borough ecology role going to be delivered?
It has been difficult in the past to deliver all these functions from the small team that operated out of the James Leal Centre with the added need for the Nature Recovery Plan and implementation along with the Planning 10% Biodiversity Net Gain requirement on all developments being implemented this year the Nature Conservation overall will require substantial extra human resources even if an ecological role is created in the Planning Department a large amount of coordination will be required across directorates and departments.
At the moment we would note that all that Vision RCL can deliver is some volunteering opportunities within the Boroughs parks along with some educational experiences for key stage 2, along with some public walks by an extremely busy single ranger, the roving Ranger for Roding Valley and Claybury Parks assists when duties allow. (This is ignoring the function of the HLF funded Hainault Forest programme which is independent)
We would note to fill the gap besides being an extremely high workload for an individual finding someone with the full skill set to carry out the full role would be extremely unlikely. Let’s look at the job attributes needed for the many faceted roles from sample job descriptions (See Appendix for copies of Job Descriptions/person Specification)
Firstly the job description for the Vision RCL Nature Conservation Ranger this is a comprehensive assessment of the role it shows a detailed analysis of what is needed to deliver nature Conservation within the open spaces of Redbridge with an emphasis on working with conservation volunteers to deliver nature gain along with an educational role.
The now defunct Senior Nature Conservation Rangers role we are missing a full current job description but from my long term memory it was generally the same as the Ranger’s role because as a two person team the senior Ranger had to cover aspects of the Rangers role in their absence or due to work load. The emphasis for the Senior Ranger was in project management and development. Both person specifications require degree qualifications in Ecology or an associated countryside science plus CIEEM membership at Associate or higher level.
The new Conservation & Country Parks Manager job description most certainly does not cover the old Senior Nature Conservation Ranger/Nature Conservation Ranger role in detail and therefore as this is a new tier of management overseeing the 3 country parks and approximately 15 staff, direct delivery to Biodiversity and the public will be low on the managers agenda. Would note that all the requested experiences are noted as desirable along with a suitable qualification, membership of a chartered intuition such as CIEEM is not required!
I believe that without the shared role there is a need for a minimum of 2 Nature Conservation rangers plus the Mobile Ranger/Warden working to their published job description for nature in Redbridge open spaces not to suffer! (When the Nature Conservation Team was first set up it had 3 dedicated officers plus wardens)
Where is the role to involve people in nature outside of the borough parks and open space, this is outside the remit of Vision RCL?
What is going to happen within the Council Planning department to deliver in terms of the Local Plan and the requirements of the Environment Act 2021 with regards to Nature Recovery Plan along with the Planning Need for 10% Biodiversity Net Gain on all developments?
I believe to deliver this a council officer should be specifically engaged as the Borough Ecologist as many other local Councils are now doing. For example see typical advert copied as appendices 3
There is a need for cross borough boundary liaison/working with the London Boroughs and out into Essex for continuity of management practices and timing.
16. Concluding statements
The need to have a thriving Nature Conservation Team and a Borough Ecologist are evident and should be fully resourced not watered down or allowed to dwindle.
Environmental/Ecological Education for all at all levels is a must which must include the decision makers down to those in early years. If this is carried out fully everyone will be aware that we are part of nature and fully dependent on it and will be active participants in its recovery.
In the ideal world Redbridge/Vision RCL would have had an up to date Nature Conservation Strategy/ Nature Recovery Plan in place before having to make major staffing change to the Nature Conservation Ranger Team.
It is considered that to develop the Strategy and Nature Recovery Plan the local nature conservation community in Redbridge must be part of the process.
Also the SINC re-survey and new sites once again the local nature conservation community can have some input into the process there is a wealth of local knowledge that should be seized upon especially by new members of staff and consultants.
The Environment Act 2021 with the remit on developers to deliver 10% additional Biodiversity Net Gain comes into force this year. The policing of it fall to the local authority Planning department which should employ a qualified ecologist that is familiar with the process and the DEFRA metric used for calculation of said Net Gain as well as to deliver other Planning ecological outputs such as SINC registration in terms of Local Plan
In writing this the underlining fear is that the borough managers and elected representative firmly believe that biodiversity only occurs in the designated local green spaces where I hope from the above it is seen that it should occur and be enhanced everywhere and must be fully resourced to flourish.
Conservation & Country Parks Manager job description
Location: Various Parks and Open Spaces offices located in the London Borough of Redbridge
We are looking for an experienced, talented and driven individual to lead our Country Park management and Nature Conservation Teams. You will be focusing on our Nature Conservation, Ecology, Grounds Maintenance and site Operations across Hainault Forest, Fairlop Waters, Claybury Woods and Roding Valley.
Our country parks are located within the London Borough of Redbridge and offer a large open space in which the community can enjoy nature and wildlife within the urban area. You will be joining our dedicated Parks and Open Spaces team and continue to help protect our award winning locations.
We are looking for an enthusiastic leader who has a proven background in managing country parks/countryside estates and can easily demonstrate their excellent nature conservation skills!
- Lead the teams in our country parks, conservation areas and nature reserves
- To hold and excellent communication and organisation skill set
- Ability to prioritise work of their own and that of their teams including work plans, schedules, managing projects and staff management
- Certificates or relevant achievements within health and safety
- Proven history of managing staff
- Qualifications in land management/conservation
- Strong understanding of Local Authority/Local Government