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Many thanks for visiting the Local Nature Recovery Toolkit consultation webpage. The consultation is now closed but you are still able to view the interactive map and the comments made. Survey responses are currently being analysed and a summary report will be published here in due course.

This page has questions and answers about the new Local Nature Recovery Toolkit that has been created for the Mayoral Combined Authority and North Somerset. Below, you can find out more about why the Toolkit was produced, how you can help to shape it with your ideas and opinions, and why the name “Local Nature Recovery Toolkit” was chosen.


“Habitats” are the places where plants, animals, insects and other species normally live.

“Biodiversity” is a word that means the variety of life in a given place – plants, animals, insects, fungi and more.

A local nature recovery strategy (LNRS) is a plan that has been created to repair habitats and make them better, increase biodiversity and to help wildlife thrive. In 2021, the UK Government passed an Environment Bill, which set out a number of targets and programmes to improve nature.

This means that 50 different areas of England will create their own Local Nature Recovery Strategies. Each area will seek to understand where habitats have been lost, or divided up, or need support to be better for wildlife. When all of the strategies are brough together, it will create a national “Nature Recovery Network”.

The Environment Bill set out a plan for each LNRS:

  • Agree priorities for nature’s recovery,
  • Map the most valuable existing areas for nature
  • Map specific proposals for creating or improving habitat for nature and wider environmental goals.

Each strategy must draw on evidence, include the views and knowledge of local people and organisations, and publish a final plan that everyone can work together to deliver.

Our Local Nature Recovery Strategy covers the Mayoral Combined Authority and North Somerset, and once it is published it will be a useful guide listing the most effective ways to help habitats and wildlife in our region. Many people have come together to bring together knowledge, so we can focus on the places and actions that will have the most impact.

The final plan will have an online, interactive map that anyone can explore in order to understand the priorities and actions near to them, and what guidance and funding is available to deliver them.

The title ‘Local Nature Recovery Toolkit’ was chosen for our Local Nature Recovery Strategy to describe how the plan can be used to make a difference for nature. It meets all of the requirements set out for a Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

The Mayoral Combined Authority has led the production of the Nature Recovery Toolkit. Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol Council, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset Council and Natural England are all ‘Supporting Authorities’ for the production of the toolkit and have approved the Consultation Draft.

We put in place governance and management mechanisms to ensure representation from a broad range of stakeholder interests, including local government, environmental NGOs, regulatory bodies, utility companies, farming and landholders, and the healthcare sector.

The priorities, measures and focus areas for nature recovery were developed after many conversations with people across the region, including communities, businesses, farmers and landowners.

We will be promoting the consultation as much as possible so as many people as possible can give their views and feedback on the proposals. The more people that take part, the better the toolkit will reflect local opportunities.

LNRSs may target a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, lakes, and coastal habitats. Experts from across the region have agreed that the habitats identified in the Toolkit are those that are most important in the region.

Priority species may include species that require targeted conservation action, threatened or endangered species, and species that play critical roles in local ecosystems.

The toolkit will also us to move faster to achieve regional targets to increase the abundance of wildlife, increase our tree and woodland cover, deliver more connected nature-rich habitats, and improve water quality.

Each LNRS will have a role in targeting public funding for nature recovery, including Biodiversity Net Gain and some elements of the Environmental Land Management (ELM) system. This will ensure that public money spent on nature recovery is spent more effectively and delivers local priorities.

We will also use the Toolkit to better target regional investment in nature recovery. The West of England Green Recovery Fund, which is already providing over £5 million in funding for projects restoring nature, is already using the Draft of the LNRS to direct its investment into priorities and focus areas for nature recovery.

Additionally, Government has a goal to raise at least £500 million per year of private finance for nature recovery by 2027 and more than £1 billion by 2030. Local Nature Recovery Strategies can support this ambition by identifying priorities and focus areas for nature recovery at the scale needed to be attractive to private finance.

We agree that nature recovery is important everywhere, which is why we have made the priorities for nature recovery relevant to the whole of the region. This enables users to see their local priorities and the most effective actions for nature whether or not they are in a focus area.

However, action for nature recovery will be more impactful in some areas than others – for example, where it will connect or expand existing habitat. It is also more feasible in some places and conflicts less with other land uses – for example on steep slopes that are hard to farm, rather than good quality agricultural land.

The Focus Areas reflect these realities, enabling us to focus action and funding for nature recovery where it will have the biggest impact and is most feasible. Delivering the priorities for nature recovery is particularly important in these Focus Areas.

It is also required by law that we map these Focus Areas (referred to as ‘areas that could become of particular importance’ in Regulations, unless they are already designated for their importance to nature).

No. The Focus Areas are a guide to where nature recovery will have the biggest impact and can help to guide funding to these areas. They do not mean that anyone in these areas will be made to take action for nature recovery or prevented from using their land in other ways, such as food production.

The Focus Areas will have a role in directing funding for biodiversity net gain through the planning system, which is very difficult to deliver in gardens due to the 30-year agreement needed through biodiversity net gain.

We have, therefore, focused on areas where long-term action for nature recovery could be secured, including parks, public spaces and some larger areas of semi-public green space.

However, gardens are absolutely crucial for nature recovery in urban areas, and we have included priorities and related measures to reflect this fact.

As a spatial tool, the Toolkit focuses on what can be done locally to help nature. There is much more information on how you can help nature in your day-to-day life on Avon Wildlife Trust's website. The final published version of the Toolkit will also include a specific guide to the Toolkit for residents and communities.

Legally, LNRSs are required to extend to the relevant local authorities’ boundaries. For some coastal local authorities, including South Gloucestershire and Bristol, these boundaries partially extend beyond the low-tide line and into the marine environment.

Some regions have chosen to extend their LNRS to the marine environment. However, given the unique nature of the marine environment, the lack of LNRS delivery mechanisms and funding to deliver actions in the marine environment, and a different set of stakeholders, we have decided to not include the marine environment in the Priorities and Focus Areas for the Toolkit. This also means the Toolkit is consistent across the local authorities that it covers.

Additionally, we believe that action in the Severn Estuary is better coordinated across the whole Estuary, as the Severn Estuary Partnership is doing.

This decision has enabled us to focus effort on where the toolkit can make the biggest impact, given the funding mechanisms and plans it will influence.

We are required by regulation to review the toolkit, as the Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Region, every 3-10 years, when requested by Government to do so. At this point, we will be able to review the toolkit's priorities and mapping to reflect action taken since its publication. Once published, we will not be able change the mapping or priorities before this official review.

However, we want to make sure that the toolkit is as helpful as possible and is being actively used by communities, farmers, businesses and others. Therefore, we will be monitoring the use of the portal and will take on board feedback from users on how we can make it as useful as possible.

We will also endeavour to track investments in nature recovery through, for example, biodiversity net gain, the ELM Scheme, and regional funds, to ascertain how they are informed by the toolkit and to what extent they are helping to deliver the priorities for the region.

LNRSs are tailored to address the specific conservation needs and priorities of a particular local area, whereas broader environmental conservation efforts may encompass larger geographic scales or focus on overarching policy frameworks. LNRSs often involve more detailed assessments of local biodiversity and engage with stakeholders at the community level. The toolkit will cover Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset as well as North Somerset.

The Nature Recovery Network is central to the government’s ‘apex goal’ of improving nature, taking us from protection to active restoration of the natural world. By creating more wildlife-rich places that are bigger, better and joined-up, Defra, Natural England and our partners seek to help address the three challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, and public health and well-being. LNRSs will directly support the overall goals of the nature recovery network.

Growing the Nature Recovery Network includes action to:

  • enhance sites designated for nature conservation and other wildlife-rich places
  • create and restore wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping-stones that help wildlife populations to recover, grow, move, thrive and adapt to a changing climate
  • improve the natural and urban environment’s resilience to climate change, providing natural solutions to reduce carbon emissions and manage flood risk
  • sustain vital ecosystems that provide healthy soil, clean water and clean air
  • protect the natural, geological, historical and cultural diversity of the natural environment
  • provide more, better green spaces for us to enjoy and connect with nature where we live, work and play, improving our health and wellbeing.

Nationally designated sites are not included as Focus Areas for Nature Recovery as they will have dedicated management plans informed by the reason for their designation. This is in line with advice received from Government.

They are, however, recognised for their particular importance to nature, and the mapping of Focus Areas has considered how to better connect and protect these sites.