part of the North West Climate Change Action Plan

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A Living Landscape: A Call to Restore the UK's Battered Ecosystems, for Wildlife and People

Date: 2008 - Present

Evidence type: Delivery

Organisation: The Wildlife Trusts

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Wildlife needs our help. Climate change means many plants and animals may face extinction unless they are able to move in search of suitable conditions: a 2°C rise in temperature will shift the natural range of some species over 150 miles to the north or nearly 1,000ft up the hillsides. Wildlife needs to adapt, and for that to happen, we need to address the whole landscape. Critically, we need to restore healthy, living landscapes that can help to alleviate floods, control pollution and help us cope with extremes of temperature.


To help the natural environment survive these dramatic changes, Wildlife Trusts around the UK have an ambitious vision known as A Living Landscape. Throughout the UK, in urban and rural areas, The Wildlife Trusts are putting this vision into practice through identifying key areas to protect for wildlife, enlarging, improving and joining them up across the UK: on nature reserves, in towns and cities, and in partnership with hundreds of other land-owners. There are now more than 100 Living Landscape schemes around the UK.

Key Messages

Use the planning system to enhance biodiversity.

- Map regional and local opportunities  

- Recognise there is a limit  

- Inspire local people to improve their quality of life  

- Use local knowledge  

- Maximise use of the system - Continue to shift planning policy into restoring and creating habitats, and incorporating green infrastructure. Local authorities must enhance biodiversity in development decisions. Proposals that hinder landscape-scale restoration, such as unsustainable housing schemes, should be reviewed.

Green infrastructure type
Non-specific green infrastructure
Climate change role/function
Helping other species to adapt

Invest in landscape scale management and restoration.

- Focus fiscal measures  

-Tailor incentive and funding schemes - Use agri-environment and forestry incentives to promote habitat restoration and make low-intensity farming systems economically viable for farmers. Public bodies and other funding organisations must embrace large-scale habitat restoration and reflect these ambitions in their funding programmes.  

- Set local authority priorities

Green infrastructure type
Non-specific green infrastructure; Woodland; Agricultural land
Climate change role/function
Helping other species to adapt

Tailor policy and practice for landscape scale restoration.

- Protect our most important sites  

- Manage public and private land - Manage the public estate to enhance biodiversity. Parks, housing, hospitals and schools can contribute to landscape-scale conservation, and also enhance health and wellbeing. Business and industry should use its land holdings in the same way. Public and private organisations should secure The Wildlife Trusts' Biodiversity Benchmark Scheme for land management.  

- Integrate policies - Ensure that policies on water, agriculture, planning and regeneration integrate at all levels to promote landscape-scale restoration. Policies should incorporate natural processes to ensure long-term cost effectiveness and sustainability, such as moving away from hard flood defences to more natural solutions. Regeneration projects such as Thames Gateway and The Olympics should make a contribution to delivering living landscapes.  

- Build living landscapes into social policy

Green infrastructure type
Non-specific green infrastructure; Parks and public gardens; General amenity space; Water courses; Water bodies; Agricultural land; Institutional grounds
Climate change role/function
Managing riverine flooding; Managing coastal flooding; Managing surface water; Helping other species to adapt

Buy time: Address climate change.

- Reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.  

- Develop a UK sustainable energy policy  

- Invest in monitoring impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

Climate change role/function
Non-specific mitigation role/function; Non-specific adaptation role/function

Seven living landscapes projects are identified in the North West.

1. Natural Connections (Cheshire Wildlife Trust; 4,700 hectares) - Aiming to establish a county-wide wildlife network in Cheshire by 2020 extending, linking and enhancing wildlife habitat across the county.  

2. Mosslands Living Landscape (Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside; 1,000 hectares) - Aiming to link fragmented mossland sites, reducing their isolation and preventing local extinctions. In the North West, 99% of mosslands have been lost.  

3. Wigan Flashes Wetland Restoration (Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside; 240 hectares) - Transforming this post-industrial wetland into a natural landscape, creating new habitat for wildlife and a new place for local people to enjoy.  

4. Brockholes Living Landscape (Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside; 160 hectares) - Creating a large flagship nature reserve near Preston, creating new habitat and bringing socio-economic benefits to the surrounding area.  

5. Witherslack Living Landscape (Cumbria Wildlife Trust; 3,500 hectares) - Reconnecting different areas of habitat to form a continuous network, helping rare peatland wildlife and also providing socio-economic benefits.  

6. Lake District Living Landscape (Cumbria Wildlife Trust; 230,000 hectares) - Aiming to restore key habitats and reconnect areas of good quality habitat over the entire area of the Lake District, using agri-environment schemes.  

7. Peatlands for People Living Landscape (Cumbria Wildlife Trust; 2,000 hectares) - Linking the mires of the Solway Firth (the most intact area of raised bog left in England) by management, land purchase and advice to land owners.

Green infrastructure type
Non-specific green infrastructure; Wetlands; Grassland, heathland and moorland; Agricultural land
Climate change role/function
Helping other species to adapt
Document Analysis


Level of document
Geographical area to which document refers
United Kingdom
Is 'green infrastructure' mentioned?
Relevant to climate change...
Mitigation; Adaptation
Is it relevant to other (non-climate change) benefits of green infrastructure?
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