The Wildlife Trusts have published a report which shows how new laws could lead to the creation of nature recovery maps and reverse decades of wildlife declines.

The new report details how a Nature Recovery Network can be established by mapping out important places for wildlife which need to be protected as well as key areas where habitats should be restored.

The Wildlife Trusts believe new laws are needed, including an Environment Act, to ensure this happens. They want to see local authorities be required by law to produce local Nature Recovery Maps to achieve the new government targets that they are calling for. The Trusts want to see increases in the extent and quality of natural habitats to turn nature's recovery from an aspiration to a reality.

The report launch comes at a critical time for wildlife. It coincides with the final week of two key government consultations which present a rare opportunity – the first in living memory – to influence the future of both national farming and planning policy and how these impact on nature in England. Precious wild places and the species that depend on them have suffered steep declines over the past 70 years; intensive farming and urbanisation have been significant causes.*

The public has a chance to call for change so that planning rules, farm support and regulation work together towards the recovery of nature and wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to respond to both consultations. The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment proposes the creation of a Nature Recovery Network. To take this forward Nature Recovery Maps should be at the foundation of future farming and planning policy, guiding habitat creation by farmers and housing developers to ensure it achieves government targets for wildlife’s recovery.

The consultation on the future for food, farming and the environment closes on May 8. It asks where public money, in the form of subsidies to farmers, should be spent in the future. It will also help to establish how the rules and standards for land management should be set and enforced.

The Wildlife Trusts want to see rules that:

• Reward farmers and land managers for the benefits they provide for society, like clean water, healthy soils and a wildlife-rich countryside

• Replace the Common Agricultural Policy with a system that supports public benefits and environmental outcomes for society

• Changes the culture of regulation, making it easier for farmers to help nature without being weighed down by unnecessary paperwork, inspections and bureaucracy

The consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework on May 10. The rules that guide planning for development will shape the future of housing. About 36 square miles of land are used by new developments every year and so the outcome of this consultation is hugely important for wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts want to see rules that:

• Protect wildlife and secure recognition of Local Wildlife Sites (which lose protection under the current proposals)

• Integrate wildlife habitats into new developments – for wildlife and people

• Commit to an improvement for wild species and habitats from all development (‘net biodiversity gain’)

• Require that new developments contribute to a national ‘Nature Recovery Network’ by including this in local planning strategies