Cheshire Conservation Forum -- Nature In Halton -- WNCF

Conservation & Biodiversity: 

Less than 20 years ago the word 'biodiversity' did not exist. Nowadays it is in frequent use and the work of conservation and conservationists lies at the very centre of efforts to protect this key aspect of our environment. Conservation means 'to protect' and biodiversity means 'the variety of life' BUT conserving biodiversity is NOT the preservation of things in stone - or even in aspic. It is the development of changes in human lifestyles which lower our impact upon our environment, our surroundings, our natural habitats and our wildlife as well as improving our land management such that the variety of life does not decrease, and keep on decreasing, but actually increases over time. 

Within Cheshire, and the North West of England as a whole, there are many organisational bodies and individuals who are hard at work attempting to realise the actuality of 'conservation' within their own small areas, as well as across parishes, counties and the region.

Biodiversity Action Plans:

In June 1992, the Heads of State or Government from more than 150 countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro (now more commonly known as - The Rio Earth Summit). In the Prime Ministers own words "We had to take action to halt the world-wide loss of animal and plant species and genetic resources. The way to do this was for each country to take responsibility for saving and enhancing biodiversity within its borders and we agreed to draw up National plans and programmes" (John Major - 1996).

The UK Government set up a Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group made up of multi-sector representatives to produce lists of the most threatened and declining British species and habitats, together with a range of costed targets for their conservation. In parallel, six of the leading environmental charities were working to stimulate the Government action and produced the first edition of "Biodiversity Challenge - An agenda for conservation in the UK" in December 1993.

In early 1994 the Government published "Biodiversity: The UK Action Plan" which was "a tentative though valuable step in the right direction" (Wynne et al, 1994). A year later this was followed by the enlarged second edition of "Biodiversity Challenge" and in December 1995 the eagerly awaited "Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report" was published in two volumes. In April 1997, official guidance on the production of Local Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) was produced by the UK Local Issues Advisory Group. These guidance notes (1-4) are entitled "An Introduction, Developing Partnerships, How Local Biodiversity Action Plans Relate to Other Plans, and, Evaluating Priorities and Setting Targets for Habitats and Species" respectively. These documents have gained widespread support throughout all sectors with an interest in wildlife conservation. What these National Audits and Strategies give us is a baseline of what species and habitats are at a critical position Nationally, which enables us to prioritise our conservation action locally. In 1998, Volume 1 - Vertebrates and Vascular Plants; Volume 2 - Habitats; Volume 3 - Plants and Fungi; Volume 4 - Invertebrates; Volume 5 - Maritime Species and Habitats; were produced, and Volume 6 - Terrestrial and Freshwater Species and habitats was produced in October 1999.

The idea is that by carrying out a Biodiversity Audit and prioritising our wildlife conservation work that we become much more knowledgeable about the whole of our local biodiversity and can improve the safeguards surrounding our species and habitats. This provides one of the fundamental concepts of 'sustainability' (Sustainable Development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.).

A Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) is both a product and a process. Not only does it identify where action needs to be taken to implement the National targets for habitats and species but it also specifies appropriate delivery mechanisms.

Biodiversity Action Plan Procedure:

  1. Undertake an audit to determine the local status of the species or habitat
  2. Compare the results of the audit with the National List
  3. List the threats to the continuity of the subject (species or habitat)
  4. Contact those persons expected to be interested
  5. Call a meeting of those who acknowledge interest
  6. List attendees for future reference & canvass attendees for others with a possible interest
  7. At meeting:
    • Set local priorities
    • Set objectives
    • Set targets
    • Draw up Local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)
    • Agree future actions to implement the BAP
    • Arrange training if required
    • Apply for funding if required
    • Agree immediate action requirements
    • Identify partners who may be able to help
  8. Call further meetings as necessary
  9. Monitor outcome of all actions
  10. Amend future actions in line with monitoring results and developing experience.

Please note that all actions involved in the BAP should be aimed at improving the local status, in terms of population numbers for species and area for habitat, of the subject and in broadening the understanding of the subjects place in the ecology of the local area.

Details of the BAPs relevant to the Cheshire region can be found on the Cheshire Wildlife Trust's web-site and also at the Cheshire Biodiversity site.

If you have plant or animal records for the Cheshire region (Chashire, Halton, Warrington, Wirral or Stockport areas) then please add them to the growing database at the Cheshire Local Record Centre here !!

Apposite Quotes: 

"People have become the most significant threat to the majority of species facing extinction. The human activities causing extinction fall into three main groups: hunting, pollution, and habitat destruction, with overlap between them." 

John Burton, World Land Trust.

"It worries me that as a nation we only spend a hundred million pounds per year on conservation, and yet several billion pounds on chocolates!" 

Roy Dennis, former RSPB Highlands Officer. 

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