Friday 12 July 2024
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Nottingham

Natural green spaces ‘an easy target’ for Nottingham city cuts, says wildlife trust

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust fears that the future of natural green space and the wellbeing of local communities could be at risk within Nottingham city.

Because of the scale of cuts being considered by Nottingham City Council across a range of services, the charity is concerned that funds used to protect and care for nature reserves, parks and other wildlife-rich greenspaces may be seen as an easy target.   

 

The Charity, which receives no grant funding from the City Council, has a long history of helping create and safeguard nature reserves across the city.

These include Sellers Wood, Martin’s Pond and Moorbridge Pond, all owned and cared for by the City Council. The Trust is concerned that the scale of cuts being considered by the council including proposed changes to the maintenance of greenspaces could open the door to much wider cuts affecting nature reserves, parks and other wildlife areas.    

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The Trust believes that one of the proposals included in the consultation – withdrawing maintenance for the ‘Green Heart’ area of the Broad Marsh redevelopment site, signals just how far the council may have to cut back on caring for vital greenspaces.   

 

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Paul Wilkinson explained: 

“For the City Council to be considering withdrawing maintenance for the Green Heart before work to create it has been completed is extremely worrying.

“The huge public response to our call for a nature-first approach to redeveloping the Broad Marsh, and people’s reliance on city greenspaces during the pandemic, demonstrates just how important natural greenspaces are to people.

“The Council must find ways to continue protecting and caring for them otherwise wildlife and people’s well-being will be at risk.”    

 

The Trust’s call for a nature-first approach to redeveloping the Broadmarsh area received the backing of over 15,000 people.

The charity believes that the ‘Green Heart’ scheme which followed, demonstrates the City’s wider environmental commitments alongside its long-held carbon-neutral ambitions.

The vision of a natural greenspace where the Broad Marsh once stood received world-wide attention and recognition and the Wildlife Trust believes that any decision to leave the area unmanaged would seriously undermine the City’s environmental credentials and reputation and send entirely the wrong message to future investors about their aspirations and ambition for the redevelopment.   

 

Paul continued: “A nature first approach to regenerating the area and other parts of the city will support wildlife, enhance community wellbeing, provide a great welcome for visitors and attract vital new investment.

“We know that lack of access to nature impacts people’s health is most keenly felt in disadvantaged communities, so it is vital that the new Green Heart, as well as long-established parks, nature reserves and other green spaces are properly protected and cared for, and that they remain safe and welcoming for visitors.”  

 

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which has responded to the official budget consultation remains open to positive dialogue about how the council can meet its budget challenges whilst ensuring wildlife and greenspaces are protected but with so many services under threat, including those relied upon by vulnerable individuals, the charity, which is currently marking its 60th anniversary, is concerned that cuts to maintenance of parks, nature reserves and other greenspaces may be seen as easier to swallow but would be both damaging and shortsighted.   

 

Paul explained: “We recognise the huge financial challenge facing the Council, but in the middle of a climate and ecological crisis it is also vital to recognise the essential role access to natural greenspace plays in supporting people’s wellbeing.

“Working alongside the City’s Parks and Open Spaces team we see the impact of their dedication and expertise first hand. We would not wish to see wholesale reductions to budgets that would undermine their ability to care for sites, support volunteers or reduce the quality of experience for site users. “

 

“Nottingham has some amazing nature reserves and wildlife-rich green spaces as a result of significant investment over the past 30 years by the Council, ourselves and the efforts of local volunteers.

“We wouldn’t want to see this investment undermined by hasty decisions which could threaten prospects for nature recovery across the city and damage the health and wellbeing of local communities. It is also vital that the Council retains the expertise and resources needed to protect wildlife habitats through the planning system.”  

 

 

 

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