Greater Manchester Green City Region. Creating a greener, greater city region differently

Our natural environment

Summary of the challenges and opportunities

We need to prioritise action over the next 5 years to protect, maintain and enhance our key natural assets (air, land, water and biodiversity) and the multiple benefits (ecosystem services) they provide.

Ultimately, we want to achieve measurable improvements in our natural environment – environmental net gain. A key first step in this will be implementing biodiversity net gain – delivering improvements through habitat creation or enhancement after avoiding or mitigating harm as far as possible. To achieve these ambitions, we need to mobilise existing and new sources of funding into our natural environment, increasing the value we place on it, as well as communicating and engaging about it, so that we are all better connected with nature.

Greater Manchester is identified as the Urban Pioneer as part of the Government’s 25
Year Environment Plan. This means we are testing new tools and methods for investing in and managing the natural environment. Signi cant progress has been made in developing a natural capital approach and progressing our priorities.


Priority 1: Managing our land sustainably, including planting 1m trees by 2024

Priority 2: Managing our water and its environment sustainably

Priority 3: Achieving a net gain in biodiversity for new development

Priority 4: Increasing investment into our natural environment

Priority 5: Increasing engagement with our natural environment


Priority 2:

  • Plant 3m trees by 2035 and a further 1-2m by 2050
  • Restore 50-75% of our peatlands



  • If you have a garden or an allotment, manage this for wildlife.
  • Visit, spend time and be active in local green and blue spaces.
  • Volunteer for projects that protect or improve the environment in your local area.

Businesses and other organisations

  • Manage any gardens or land for wildlife

  • Put in place green roofs and/or green walls and/or plant trees.

  • Invest in Greater Manchester’s natural environment

  • Promote environmental volunteering amongst your employees

Landowners and farmers

  • Enter into agri-environment agreements to fund environmental improvements on your land
  • Access additional funding to create or restore ponds through new District Licensing scheme for great crested newts

Local Authorities

  • Build natural capital into projects to maximise the value that the environment brings including on estates and land.


  • City of Trees – develop, embed and support delivery of a Greater Manchester Tree and Woodland Strategy, contribute to 3m tree planting target and increase volunteering and engagement.
  • Environment Agency – explore the development of a Natural Capital Plan for Greater Manchester and work with United Utilities to deliver the bene ts of its investment across the Irwell and Upper Mersey catchments.
  • Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership – ensure that their approach to developing a Greater Manchester Population Health system understands the importance of the natural environment as a key wider determinant of health, and seeks to ensure that action undertaken is re ective of that understanding; promote the health benefits of green space and maximise the opportunities to incorporate this into their programmes.
  • Lancashire Wildlife Trust – support delivery of the Greater Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area and increase the number of people engaged with nature.
  • Natural England – identify peatland restoration opportunities, new Great Crested Newt licensing scheme, lead developing biodiversity net gain guidance and explore application of green infrastructure standards and establishing of a nature recovery network.
  • Royal Horticultural Society – inspire more of Greater Manchester’s residents to get involved in gardening and improving their local environments, working in partnership with other community growing projects
  • United Utilities – invest £300m at waste water treatment works to improve river quality (2015-2020) and implement further planned improvements in 2020-2025 business plan

Local policy

  • Continue the work of the urban pioneer, embedding a natural capital approach into strategy and plan development.
  • Support peatland restoration as part of Resilience Strategy.
  • Support the delivery of a biodiversity net gain approach in new development.
  • Support the development of a Greater Manchester Environment Fund.
  • Support the implementation of the Natural Capital Investment Plan (subject to approval) to increase private sources of funding.
  • Launch a programme of innovative funding mechanisms to deliver increased investment in nature-based adaptation solutions (subject to approval).
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