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Wildlife is good for business in the East Midlands

Last modified: 16 September 2014

Cuckoo stretching wings

Image: Steve Round

Game-changing response required to tackle State of Nature crisis.

Finding game-changing solutions to the crisis facing nature is the theme of the landmark Conference for Nature today [3 September], which features high-profile delegates including Sir David Attenborough, a broadcaster and naturalist, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and key people from business, politics, the utility sector and conservation.

In May last year, a coalition of the UK’s leading wildlife groups released the State of Nature report, which revealed 60 per cent of our native species are in decline and one in ten of all the species assessed are heading for UK extinction.

More than a year on, the report partners, with support from Sir David Attenborough, are gathering to encourage new ways of tackling the crisis facing our wildlife.

Commenting ahead of the event, Sir David Attenborough said: “From the food we eat to the popular bedtime stories we read to our children, nature touches everyone’s lives more deeply than we can possibly imagine. The escalating erosion of wildlife from our planet is a direct threat to many facets of our own quality of life.

“Because of the complex relationship society has with nature, it is obvious that our response to saving it must extend from every possible quarter too. From you and I in our own domains, from business magnates to politicians, and from farmers to faith leaders, everyone has an opportunity to save nature. With an increasing global footprint, mankind is intensifying the crisis for wildlife, but as individuals we can all be a part of the solution for saving it too.”

The strength of support the conference has received from leading figures in industry and the Government as well as all the UK’s major wildlife and countryside organisations demonstrates the level of ambition for tackling wildlife decline.

In the East Midlands, the RSPB has been working with mineral planners and the industry to help nature during and post- minerals extraction at sites that have the potential to create habitats for wildlife, such as wetlands. The RSPB and Lafarge Tarmac have been working together for over 20 years to restore a sand and gravel quarry, Langford Lowfields on the banks of the River Trent, into the largest reedbed in the East Midlands and among the ten largest in the UK.

Michael Copleston, Site Manager for RSPB Langford Lowfields nature reserve, comments: “RSPB Langford Lowfields is already attracting fantastic wetland wildlife: cuckoos and hobbies in the spring, and massive starling roosts, bitterns and harriers in the winter.

“The course of the River Trent, both present and past, is rich in high-quality minerals, particularly sand and gravel. Here at Langford Lowfields, up to 500,000 tonnes may be quarried in a single year.”

Once the aggregate is removed from the site, thousands of tonnes of soil is then shaped and moved into channels and islands. The landscape is then transformed into a wetland, ideal for growing reeds, where bitterns, water voles, fish and marsh harriers can flourish.

Neil Beards, Estates Manager for Lafarge Tarmac, added: “We have worked at Langford Quarry since 1988 and restoration has always been central to our vision of its future. Our partnership with the RSPB has enabled us to create a superb wetlands habitat where rare birds such as the breeding marsh harrier have been sighted. We look forward to continuing our work on this significant conservation site to further enhance the biodiversity benefits of the reserve.”

Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s Chief Executive, said: “Last year’s State of Nature Conference set out the context for the devastating declines in some of our best-loved species, such as the turtle dove, common toad, and Atlantic salmon. However, saving these and other threatened species requires inventive solutions and creative partnerships with many sectors, underpinned by a meaningful commitment from the Government. This conference is the platform for all to come together and achieve just that.”

The Conference for Nature is organised by the State of Nature Partnership, a coalition of NGOs, including RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife.

The conference in London today will be attended by figures from a wide range of other industry sectors including housing development, water, retail, agriculture, mineral extraction, finance, transport and infrastructure.

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