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Manchester expert involved in launch of England’s Nature Recovery Network

A renowned community engagement expert from The University of Manchester is working with Natural England as they launch a national Nature Recovery Network, which it is hoped will help to deal with the challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change and wellbeing.

This new network will enhance sites designated for nature conservation and other wildlife-rich places – newly-created and restored wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping stones will help wildlife populations to grow and move.

It will improve the landscape’s resilience to climate change, providing natural solutions to reduce carbon and manage flood risk, and sustaining vital ecosystems such as improved soil, clean water and clean air. It will also enable us to enjoy and connect with nature where we live, work and play - benefiting our health and wellbeing.

The network aims to restore 75% of protected sites so nature can thrive, and to create or restore 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife-rich habitat outside of protected sites. It also seeks to recover threatened and iconic animal and plant species by providing more, diverse and better connected habitats, to support work to increase woodland cover, and to achieve a range of environmental, economic and social benefits, such as carbon capture, flood management, clean water, pollination and recreation.

Dr Joanne Tippett, a Spatial Planning lecturer from The University of Manchester’s School of Environment and Development, is working with Natural England on community engagement for the pilot project, which is working towards gaining National Nature Reserve status for the Flashes across Wigan. These urban reserves are home to nationally rare species, including the Willow Tit, and has been created from years of restoration work on former industrial sites through Wigan Greenheart.

During the project Dr Tippett’s innovative engagement toolkit Ketso Connect will be used, in order to ensure that everyone’s voice is still heard despite the challenge of holding meetings remotely during the pandemic.

"Finding creative ways to engage with local communities brings immense benefits for our restoration efforts,” said Dr Tippett. “Not only is volunteer effort vital to achieving our ambitions, but when people learn and care about their local wildlife, they work hard to protect it. Such involvement also brings huge benefits for local people, in terms of skills development and health & wellbeing from being in contact with nature.”

“At Natural England, we have embedded Joanne’s Ketso toolkit into our community and stakeholder engagement, because it helps us to achieve our environmental aims,” said Dr Amanda Wright, Senior Advisor Biodiversity at Natural England. “It makes it easier for us to actually hear what people care about in their local area. It has also helped build and maintain a strong partnership across local authority boundaries and amongst diverse organisations, essential to helping us think at a landscape level of scale.”

“Joanne’s latest innovation comes from adapting her tool to work in digital workshops - it is refreshing to see a hands-on toolkit instead of pure digital tools in this time of pandemic-driven disconnection. The kit has been reformed to be used by people working remotely, but communicating together. We will be using this new approach in work in Natural England to help us implement the National Nature Recovery Network.”

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