Importance of Local Wildlife Sites
Local Wildlife Sites are surveyed and monitored regularly and therefore create the most comprehensive data set of biodiversity in the county. This data set provides baseline evidence of BAP habitats, allows targeted habitat management and restoration, and guides the provision of Biodiversity Enhancement and Green Infrastructure.
The availability of information about where Wildlife Sites are and why they are important allows owners, planners and conservation bodies to work together to make informed decisions about the future of these sites. Available funding can then be targeted where it can be of most value in protecting biodiversity.
The Planning Process
Planning and Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation recognises that Local Wildlife Sites have a fundamental role to play in:
helping to meet overall national biodiversity targets,
contributing to the quality of life and the well-being of the community,
and in supporting research and education.
The wildlife value of sites is taken into account when Local Plans are prepared and when decisions are taken in line with these Local Plans. Identification of Wildlife Sites aids this process by making it immediately obvious those areas that are of greatest wildlife value. Local Wildlife Sites must therefore be considered before permitting development that would result in their loss or deterioration.
National Indicator 197 - Improved Local Biodiversity
The new national indicator set for local authorities and local authority partnerships was announced as part of the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on Tuesday 9 October. This included an indicator for improved local biodiversity, that will be monitored through the positive management of local sites.
The implementation of active conservation management on local sites is going to serve as a means for assessing improvements in biodiversity for the LAA. This requires the identification of the location of local sites, the survey of those sites every 5 years to assess their condition (Defra guidelines), and ensuring that positive conservation management is in place.
Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership currently undertakes this work on a small scale, therefore is in a position to aid Local Authorities with meeting their targets for NI 197. However, current resources mean that the survey process is severely behind schedule, therefore we are unable to provide accurate baseline information regarding the condition of sites and whether they are under positive conservation management. With the provision of additional resources however, this would be entirely possible.
More information on National Indicator 197