Over the next 18 months, Greater Manchester Combined Authority will be producing the first Greater Manchester Local Nature Recovery Strategy, building on the fantastic work of our pilot in 2021. Rachel Morrison, Nature Recovery Lead at GMCA, provides the first of our regular project team blogs, which will update on our progress developing the strategy with partners and on our journey towards implementation.

In early July we got the go ahead to kick-off the development of a new local nature recovery strategy for Greater Manchester, which will set out how we can all help nature across the city-region.

Why does nature recovery matter?

Wildlife populations have declined globally by 69% since the 1970s and we know that nature is being lost nationally and locally. Everyone has a role to play in helping nature to recover.

The post-industrial legacy and rapid urban growth of Greater Manchester means it is often overlooked as an important place for nature. But since the 1970s the environment in the city region has improved and we have seen recovery of our once heavily polluted rivers, with fish populations and otters returning to our rivers. These successes show what can happen if we give nature a chance to recover, but we know much more needs to be done reverse this long-term decline.

Access to nature and green space is just as important for people. More than half of GM residents are thought to visit our great outdoors for leisure every week and 93% of GM residents surveyed agreed that having open greenspace close to where they live is important. However, less than half of all homes in GM are within five minutes’ walk of a large park or greenspace.

By working together, we can set out a blueprint for a more liveable city-region, with a new network for nature recovery and people to enjoy across the city-region.

What is a local nature recovery strategy?

Local Nature Recovery Strategies are a new system of spatial strategies for nature introduced by the government in the Environment Act 2021, showing how and where everyone can work together to help nature recover. A total of 48 individual strategies will cover all of England, collectively forming a National Nature Recovery Network – you can read more about this here.

Our strategy for Greater Manchester will set out our priorities and targets for nature recovery, measures to help deliver them and maps of where action should be taken. These priorities, maps and targets will support the planning system and help direct funding (public, philanthropic or private) for nature recovery.

Our strategy will cover all ten Local Authorities in Greater Manchester, stretching from Wigan to Stockport, Rochdale to Trafford, and connect with our neighbours in Lancashire, Liverpool, Derbyshire and Cheshire.

The government has made legally binding commitment to end the decline in nature, with a new set of targets to protect our environment, clean up our air and rivers and boost nature published in 2023.

We will set out in our strategy what Greater Manchester can do to contribute towards these national commitments and in our new 5-year Environment Plan in 2024.

How are we approaching the GM LNRS?

Building on the success of the GM pilot, working together with partners involved in nature recovery and key stakeholders across the city region will be essential to the development of our strategy.

By co-creating a shared strategy, we can collectively agree actions not just for local government to take, but also for nature charities, regulators, developers, business and communities to ensure everybody in Greater Manchester can play their part.

Debbie Wallace, our first Local Nature Recovery Champion.

What have we done or far?

Since kicking off the strategy in July:

  • We have been collating our existing knowledge as we work to better understand of the state of nature across the city region. Do you have an insight to contribute? If so, please see our call for evidence.
  • We have begun stakeholder engagement to help co-create the strategy, bringing together nature charities and initiatives from across GM with key partners such as TFGM, the Environment Agency, and the NHS to help inform the vision for nature recovery in GM and our priorities.
  • We have been working to understand and showcase individuals leading the way in nature recovery in GM, our Local Nature Recovery Champions. You can read the first of our interviews here.

What are the next steps?

Over the autumn, we will be conducting in depth engagement on our vision for how nature recovery can take place in GM, helping shape our principles and priorities.

Key findings from our call for evidence on the state of nature in GM will be published, helping create a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities across our region. And we will also be running webinars for key groups over the autumns, such as councillors and community groups.

Keep up to date

Find out more about our plan for nature recovery

Greater Manchester is currently developing its Local Nature Recovery Strategy, which will set out a blueprint for a more liveable city-region, with fairer access to green space for all.

Find out more including ways to get involved on our nature recovery webpage.
GM Green City Logo