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John Clare Countryside project helps parishes develop nature recovery plans

Langdyke Countryside Trust has revealed a 'toolkit' for parishes signed up to the John Clare Countryside project, which aims to create a nature recovery area west of Peterborough.
Planting oak trees - like the ones in Southey Woods - may be one of the projects parishes wish to start (Photo: Martyn Moore)

The John Clare Countryside project was launched in September 2019 and wants to create an extensive and accessible nature recovery area across the landscape west of Peterborough. This nature recovery area is to be designed, led and supported by residents, landowners, farmers, businesses and parish councils - of which 12 have signed up to take part already.

The area will be supported by Natural England and distinguished from other nature recovery areas in that it is community led and combines both natural and heritage elements, due to the connection with John Clare.

The Trust overseeing the development of the project, Langdyke Countryside Trust, has launched the 'toolkit' that will help parishes begin their own nature recovery plans.

The project aims to:

  1. Deliver significant increases in key wildlife habitats, particularly those of limestone grassland, wetland and aspects of arable farmland, which are important to this geographical area
  2. Raise levels of local pride, aspiration and community cohesion by helping communities to understand, appreciate and enjoy their natural and built heritage
  3. Pilot and champion best practice sustainable development in all aspects of future development within the area including sustainable techniques of land management both on and off the existing nature reserves
  4. Promote public health and wellbeing, providing opportunities for access to and understanding of nature-rich countryside
  5. Create new jobs and economic opportunities allied to the delivery of these objectives, particularly in tourism, visitor attractions, farming and nature conservation
  6. Through this work create a more resilient countryside and communities, where nature is at the heart of the approach to tackling the climate emergency

Parish nature recovery plans are being decided upon by local communities, but the Langdyke Countryside Trust document suggests that each plan covers an initial ten-year period. Clear outcomes should be laid out, so that local people can take interest and pride in the progress being made and the targets being reached. They should be developed by local people so that the aspirations reflect what inspires those communities, be it wildlife, tree planting, creating ponds, community gardens.

For more information or to get involved, see the vision for the John Clare Countryside project here.