South Gloucestershire Council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy, which was adopted at the Cabinet meeting on Monday 8 November, describes a vision for a greener, cleaner and healthier area. It sets out practical steps in an action plan, by which the local authority will work with range of partners and the community to respond to the Climate and Nature Emergency.
The Council will lead, facilitate and promote local changes that will improve the places we live, contribute to the local economy, play a role in reducing inequalities and help regenerate communities across the district.
Green infrastructure means the natural environmental features of an area. By effectively planning, designing, managing and connecting our natural assets, we can deliver benefits for our community and for the natural world. By doing these things we can help to provide natural flood management, a variety of ecosystems for wildlife and store carbon that might otherwise be released into the atmosphere, contributing to further climate change. We want to improve not just our natural environment, but its resilience to change.
Our new strategy aims to create more habitat for plants and wildlife, provide enjoyable public open spaces, ensure that green infrastructure is made integral to new development, and to support a greener and more resilient economy.
The strategy also describes how we will take action to look after our existing natural heritage, our landscapes, and how we will support more sustainable and local food production. Building on current relationships, we want to forge stronger collaboration between the council, environmental partners and other organisations, as well as with local residents to bring our plans to life through the action plan, which has also been adopted alongside the strategy.
The international COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow has seen a number of positive commitments made, including to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. We will also play our part and rise to the challenge we must all face up to, by implementing this ambitious new strategy for ‘greener places’.
Among the actions included are plans for:
• The creation of five new Local Nature Reserves across South Gloucestershire
• Restoring hedgerows, improving habitats for pollinators and changing the way we manage highway verges and grassland areas to support nature
• Planting trees to double tree cover across the district – including ambitions to have a well-managed climate change-resilient community orchard within a 15-minute walk of every local urban community
• Establishing a Green Investment Scheme, helping local businesses align their carbon offsetting aims and objectives through the Council’s activities
• Producing an online green spaces map, with information about facilities, accessibility, public transport and site ‘Friends groups’, to encourage people to enjoy our natural environment and contribute to work to support it locally
• Public education and campaigns to inspire local climate and nature action
• Working with Town and Parish Councils to prepare Local Nature Action Plans to make changes and take action for nature in the heart of our communities
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Councillor Toby Savage, said: “This new strategy sets out proudly ambitious plans for local nature and we want to be holistic. We have an important role to play, but we will be best able to achieve our aims if we align and work with local residents and businesses with us on this journey. In this way, we can collectively understand the scope of the work we need to do, and how the steps we each need to take will contribute to our shared goal to protect and improve our shared environment.
“This strategy is a fundamental part of that vision. By working together, the benefits will be felt in our lifetimes, but also for future generations in the natural work, our local economy, our communities, and it can lead to better health and wellbeing for all.
“South Gloucestershire has such a rich and varied landscape, we want to work together with everyone who lives, works in, and visits our area to deliver a vision now and into the future for greener places where people and nature thrive together.”
You can find out more about the strategy and action plan at www.southglos.gov.uk/greenerplaces
Find out how you can get involved at www.southglos.gov.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-emergency-community-engagement