Step 4: Firm up your ideas into a plan and policies
Now that you’ve surveyed your land, you’ll want to manage it better for nature. But where do you start?
For inspiration, RSPB Scotland’s James Silvey shares how he manages his garden for nature.
For more detailed ideas on how to manage different habitats for nature, check out the following resources:
- For quick suggestions about what you can do for nature see our cheat-sheet.
- For Local Authority guidance on managing assets for pollinators click here
- To find out more about managing churchyards for nature click here
- For managing hedges click here
- For local authority guidance on trees click here
- For verge management see the Good Verge Guide or here for a review of costs, benefits and management options
- To find out about wildflower meadow creation click here
- For creating a community orchard, click here
Environmental plans and policies are also an important way of ensuring nature is embedded at the heart of your council.
- Declare an Ecological Emergency
- Use this Generic Environmental Policy Template to help shape your Council’s policies
- Use this Step-by-step local council guidance to becoming pesticide free
- Find out about long-term Environmental Growth Strategy or our short-term draft Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
- Find guidance on developing a Pollinator Plan or see Cornwall’s Pollinator Action Plan
- Use this Toolkit for Local Authorities to develop pesticide-free policies
- Calculate your ward’s carbon footprint and use it to identify actions with the greatest impact
- Use this tool to help local decision makers take account of the environment and people
Many local councils in Cornwall are already improving their areas to benefit nature and people. Here are some examples of what’s been going on.
Gwennap Parish Council – a small parish making great strides
In response to the Climate Emergency, Gwennap Parish Council plans to plant 1000 trees every year in the parish over the next 10 years. Despite lockdown, they planted 950 in 2020 – with all the trees donated by I-Dig-Trees. Gwennap PC has been busy taking other steps for nature including managing assets using pesticide-free alternatives, reducing mowing and encouraging re-wilding. Wider actions include switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and switching to a green energy supplier at the Parish Hall.
You can find more info on the Gwennap Parish Council website
To claim free trees go to I Dig Trees
Cornwall Urban Buzz
Truro City Council and Wadebridge, St Austell and Falmouth town councils joined forces as part of Buglife’s ‘Cornwall Urban Buzz’ project. With the help of over 500 local volunteers, 58 ‘buzzing hotspots’ were enhanced to provide food, shelter and nesting sites for bees, butterflies and other insects. By creating wildflower meadows, pollinator-friendly flower beds, and building bee hotels, this project brought colour and life into urban areas – appreciated by residents and wildlife.
Click to find out about Cornwall Urban Buzz
Parish saves ancient woodland from development
In November 2021, Devoick Parish Council launched a Crowdfunder campaign in a bid to buy an ancient wet woodland in Seaton. In just 12 days over £27,000 was raised and, combined with Council reserves, meant they were able to purchase the site. Now protected from development, Devoick Parish Council is looking forward to working with Cornwall Wildlife Trust and other supporters on a sustainable, long term management plan for the woodland and its wildlife.
You find out about the Crowdfunder campaign here
Wadebridge goes pesticide-free
To reduce the environmental and health impacts of herbicides, rodenticides and insecticides, Wadebridge Town Council became a pesticide-free town in 2016. They continue to effectively manage their parks, verges, cemetery, roads and pavements using chemical-free alternatives such as hand tools, brush weeders, and gas flame equipment. Combined with a reduced mowing regime and leaving some areas to go wild, a pesticide-free approach means that insects, birds and mammals now have more places to feed, nest and find shelter within the town. Moreover, Wadebridge Town Council have reduced maintenance costs and found that local people appreciate a more natural approach – a win-win situation for all!
You can see our Q&A session with Wadebridge Town Council.
You can find out more at Wadebridge Town Council
Developing plans and policies with community dialogue – Maker-with-Rame Parish Council
A great example of a local community shaping parish policy can be seen in progress at Maker-with-Rame. In August 2021, Maker-with-Rame Parish Council’s Environment and Conservation Committee hosted a well attended community dialogue event. The purpose was to start developing local environment and conservation priorities in the area. The resulting report focuses on community identified policies which will be taken forward for consideration at subsequent Full Council meetings.
You can see the Report of Community Dialogue on Environment and Conservation Priorities and follow the progress of priorities here
Cornwall Council can create Local Nature Reserves. Town and parish councils can create Local Nature Reserves if the district council has given them the power to do this.
The local authority must control the Local Nature Reserve land – either through ownership, a lease or an agreement with the owner. As a manager of a Local Nature Reserve you need to care for and protect its natural features. You must also make your land accessible for any visitors.
Many types of land can make suitable Local Nature Reserves. They’re usually areas of natural green space but the following types of land can also be designated as long as they have wildlife or geological interest, including:
- brownfield and artificial sites, such as historic cemeteries
- agricultural land and orchards
- commons and other accessible green spaces
You can read guidance on how to establish a Local Nature Reserve.
Your local council can help you find out what land is publicly owned and the LNRS will help you understand what is important about this land for nature.
You can then work with the Nature Recovery and Property teams at Cornwall Council to go through the process of having the land formally declared as an LNR. If your Local Council is willing to take on responsibility for the land, this process will be made quicker.