Wiltshire Council: Community Environmental Toolkit

The Wiltshire Community Environmental Toolkit has been developed by Wiltshire Council in partnership with Natural England to allow communities to take the lead in defining and restoring biodiversity in their community. Designed for use by community groups, local landowners, Parish and Town Councils, schools and youth groups, it provides a structure for how local communities can better understand what they already have in terms of biodiverse habitats, as well as how to plan for developing greater biodiversity and nature-based carbon sequestration in the future.


The challenge

Communities and individuals are starting to make changes in their local area to help address climate change, and halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Planting trees has been a popular reaction and is to be welcomed, however, at Wiltshire Council we were concerned that there was a real risk that these good intentions could, without adequate knowledge and supporting information, inadvertently harm other valuable wildlife habitats.

The solution

The importance of providing some informative guidance that communities could use to improve biodiversity in their area, was behind the concept of the Community Environmental Toolkit.

Working in partnership with Natural England, we created this short document, which aims to help communities get the greatest environmental benefits from their hard work.

It is a step by step guide that provides guidance on how to survey and identify key habitat types and explains what some of the wider benefits are - for example, carbon storage, flood mitigation and water quality improvements. It also provides links to further guidance, useful organisations and potential funding opportunities.

The Community Environmental Toolkit helps to deliver the goals in the 25 Year Plan by supporting and inspiring our communities to understand the value of what they already have. Through well considered community projects and initiatives we can help:

  • plants and wildlife to thrive
  • mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • enhance the beauty, heritage and community engagement with the natural environment.

As well as providing guidance on understanding your local environment, the toolkit covers a variety of habitat types including:

  • woodland
  • grassland
  • scrubland
  • wetland
  • urban
  • farmland.

The development of the toolkit over 2020 also helped bring together positive examples of work that were already being delivered by organisations across Wiltshire. It celebrates and shares good practice and provides inspiration for other projects. Together we can deliver more and learn from each other.

The impact

This toolkit is just part of a host of environmental initiatives that Wiltshire Council is supporting that will mean that community organisations can help the council and other environmental partners to deliver a collective and joined up approach to improving our natural environment for the benefits of people and nature.

Over the next few months, the toolkit will be shared with community groups plus town and parish councils, alongside training and expert support provided by the council’s own ecologists and from partner organisations. Projects will be mapped and will form part of the emerging Wiltshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy to reinforce and enhance our valuable green and blue corridors and spaces. The Toolkit will form part of a suite of documents that Wiltshire Council is producing as part of the Green Blue Infrastructure Strategy.

Contact

Lynn Trigwell Landscape and Design Manager, Wiltshire Council lynn.trigwell@wiltshire.gov.uk