Nature recovery for local authorities

This is the front page for the PAS Nature Recovery Network project funded by Natural England. The project is supporting local authorities to get ready for delivering the Nature Recovery Network and Local Nature Recovery Strategies and sharing approaches and experience to date.


This webpage provides information on:

  • The PAS Nature Recovery Network project including key outputs and timescales.
  • Why nature recovery is so important and what this means for local authorities including new duties introduced by the Environment Act 2021?
  • Examples of existing nature recovery activities that local authorities are already delivering and what more can be done.
  • The type of support that Natural England is providing to local authorities to get them ready for delivering the Nature Recovery Network and Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

Links to further content are included in the pages below and feedback is welcomed on this page. 

What's new?

Following on from our Nature Recovery for Local Authorities event on 8th December 2022 we have created a nature recovery Frequently Asked Questions webpage.  These cover questions relating to the Nature Recovery Network, Local Nature Recovery Strategies and Biodiversity Net Gain and will be updated on a rolling basis. 

PAS has published the findings from the Nature Recovery Emerging Insights Snapshot - In conversation with early adopter local authorities.  The findings are the product of conversations with 20 early adopter local authorities to understand their thinking about the new system for delivering nature recovery. 

As a result of the conversations with the early adopter local authorities PAS has also started to pull together a mini library of good examples where local authorities are delivering nature recovery activities.  Click on this link to access the mini library. 

Introduction to the PAS Nature Recovery Network project

Natural England have commissioned PAS to lead on a project engaging with local authorities to raise awareness and understanding on what the Nature Recovery Network is and how it can be delivered to help to address both the climate change and the biodiversity crisis and the challenges faced with public health and wellbeing.  This will run from August 2022 to the end of March 2023.

The key objective for this project is to work with local authorities including Combined Authorities, County, Unitary, Metropolitan and District Councils (not including Parish and Town Councils) to:

  • Explain and communicate to local authorities what the Nature Recovery Network is and how it can be delivered (how the Nature Recovery Network will help to address climate change, biodiversity loss and public health and wellbeing).
  • Develop ideas on how local authorities can contribute to the Nature Recovery Network through local projects especially in relation to integrating actions to address climate change, biodiversity loss, public health and wellbeing.
  • Develop and share ideas / case studies / examples of local authorities delivering nature recovery.
  • Listen to local authorities to assess best practice and issues, giving feedback issues to the Nature Recovery Network Management Group to address as necessary.
  • Develop and maintain strong external networks and partnerships that are of value to the LGA.

The project includes the following key outputs:

  • Communications (September 2022) - PAS website to include new section on the Nature Recovery Network project together with launch article in PAS newsletter and social media.
  • Conversations with local authorities (August to Sept 2022) - report thoughts and experience drawn from a group of local authorities already delivering nature recovery activities, covering new duties, opportunities, process and challenges.
  • Workshops and seminars (September to December 2022) - hold two series of workshops targeted at the needs of Local Planning Authorities and responsible authorities (supporting Defra/Natural England regional workshops) to provide up to date information on funding, timescales, regulations and guidance (although the secondary legislation is unlikely to be published by October) and provide an opportunity for discussion to understand the issues they are facing, potential solutions and what support they need.
  • Case studies (October 2022 to February 2023) - Showcasing approaches and experience from local authorities delivering nature recovery activities across the country.  
  • Final wrap up report (March 2023) - to include evidence, recommendations and next steps for Natural England, Defra and others on local authority thoughts and activity, progress to date and needs to understand future support required.

What is nature recovery and why is it so important?

The natural environment has an innate value that means we have a strong responsibility to protect it. Its value to us is also clearer than ever: It is fundamental to our health and wellbeing, is the foundation of a productive economy and provides us with attractive neighbourhoods and access to green spaces we can enjoy.

Despite this the natural environment faces urgent and significant challenges in the UK and across the world. By tackling the biodiversity emergency, we will help nature recover and, at the same time, secure the health and economic benefits from an enhanced natural environment, for wildlife, for people and for our economy.

Key publications include:
  • State of Nature report (2019) suggests there has been a 13% decline in the average abundance of wildlife in the UK since the 1970s.
  • The ‘Bigger, Better, More and Joined-up’ principles of the Lawton Report (2010) - ‘Making Space for Nature’ - should be followed to help rebuild nature.
  • The Dasgupta Review 2021 makes explicit that Long term economic prosperity is dependent on a healthy natural environment.  

National policy and legislation

The UK governments 25 Year Environment Plan sets out what the UK will do to improve the environment, within a generation. By 2042, the ambition is to achieve high quality, accessible, natural spaces with increased biodiversity close to where people live and work, with a focus around the equal distribution of environmental benefits and resources to all.

The Environment Act 2021 introduced a number of new duties for local authorities which are of relevance to nature recovery and biodiversity including:

  • All planning permissions granted in England (with a few exemptions) will have to deliver at least 10% biodiversity net gain from Nov 2023 (S98-101)
  • Enhanced duty for LAs to conserve and enhance biodiversity (S102) and report on their actions (S103)
  • LPAs will need to comply with the above duty and have regard to the Local Nature Recovery Strategy in local planning policy and decisions (S102).
  • Responsible authorities appointed by the Secretary of State (S105) to lead the Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS), working with a broad range of stakeholders. 

What is the Nature Recovery Network?

The Nature Recovery Network is a major commitment in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, enacted by the Environment Act 2021, and is the biggest nature restoration project in our nation’s history. It will be a national network of wildlife-rich places with the aim to expand, improve and connect these places across our cities, towns, countryside and coast. 

The Nature Recovery Network will help us deal with 3 of the biggest challenges we face: biodiversity loss, climate change and wellbeing.  By 2042 the aim is to:

  • restore 75% of protected sites on land (including freshwaters) to favourable condition so nature can thrive
  • create or restore 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife-rich habitat outside of protected sites
  • recover threatened and iconic animal and plant species by providing more, diverse and better-connected habitats
  • support work to increase woodland cover
  • achieve a range of environmental, economic and social benefits, such as carbon capture, flood management, clean water, pollination and recreation

How will the Nature Recovery Network be delivered?

The Nature Recovery Network will be delivered through:

  • New spatial tools to effectively target action and investment in nature, Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) will align local priorities and national need.  Introduced by the Environment Act 2021, these strategies will be produced at a county level by responsible authorities (Combined Authorities, County and Unitary Councils).
  • Strong partnerships to deliver action on the ground including government, landowners and managers, business, local communities, conservation organisations, local authorities and many more.
  • Integration of policies and funding streams with government goals for nature, to maximise opportunities for nature recovery and secure new funding or (public and private).  This includes effective application of policies such as biodiversity net gain and new farming incentives.

How are local authorities already delivering nature recovery activities?

There are a range of nature recovery activities that local authorities are already working on which align with the delivery of the Nature Recovery Network, including:

  • Mapping and data - mapping natural assets and the emerging Nature Recovery Network.  This includes highlighting potential locations for creating new areas of habitat as well as where to better manage the existing areas we already have for wildlife.
  • Local policy and strategy – declaring a biodiversity emergency and setting out the vision, policies and practical actions needed to restore declining species and habitats.  Some local authorities have started thinking about nature recovery in their area in anticipation of Local Nature Recovery Strategy production. There is useful preparation that can be done now.
  • Partnerships – a growing number of partnerships have already been established to drive forward nature recovery priorities and projects including Local Nature Partnerships and Catchment Partnerships. In the case of Local Nature Partnerships a number of local authorities host and coordinate these.
  • Local delivery – projects and plans that put nature recovery at the heart of service delivery. This includes investing in tree planting, working with farm clusters and landscape partnerships, delivering pollinator projects to schools and parish councils.
  • Funding – successfully securing funding for the delivery of nature recovery projects. Also, supporting the development of funding models that will generate repayable investment from a range of ecosystem services channeling more private investment into nature.

What more can be done by local authorities?

Collaborative action is required to create more bigger better, joined up wildlife rich places that achieve benefits for nature, people and climate including:

  • Policy and strategy (including mapping and data) – production of Local Nature Recovery Strategies by responsible authorities to provide a locally owned foundation that develops and underpins the Nature Recovery Network; identifying the places which, once action has been taken on the ground, will enable the Network to grow over time.  Action will help achieve wider environmental objectives and contribute to green economic recovery objectives.
  • Partnership working - continue to work with and build upon existing regional partnerships such as Local Nature Partnerships and Catchment Partnerships and identify new partnerships where they are needed to drive forward priority activities.  Action for nature recovery will need to happen at a landscape scale and this means taking action across local authorities, boundaries and engaging with partners from a range of sectors.  Local authorities have a unique ability to work in this space and help convene others?  For example, councilors can link to local communities, farmers, landowners, etc.
  • Local delivery – drive forward local delivery with partners, supporting existing local partnerships and encourage new ones where needed to help deliver the network and engage in the Local Nature Recovery Strategy process.  Encourage and develop a move to deliver more projects at a landscape scale.
  • Funding – utilise existing and new funding streams and explore opportunities to blend private, public and voluntary sector resources. This includes locking objectives for nature into long-term public funding schemes such as biodiversity net gain and agri-environment schemes that reward environmental benefits.  

What type of support is available from Natural England?

A range of support is available from Natural England including:

  • Mapping and data – Access to evidence and Technical information notes, including key documents such as Nature Networks and the Climate Change Adaptation Manual.
  • Policy and strategy - Natural England have recruited Nature Recovery Network and Local Nature Recovery Strategy leads across area teams trained to support delivery.  Please contact your local area office to find out who your local delivery lead is.
  • Partnerships - launched in November 2020, the Nature Recovery Network Delivery Partnership is a broad network of cross-sectoral organisations who work together to help deliver the Nature Recovery Network. They are supported by the Partnership Management Group.  Organisations within any sector who are willing to commit to nature’s recovery can join this partnership. This includes private business, charities and local authorities.   To express an interest in becoming a Nature Recovery Network Delivery Partner, email Natural England’s Nature Recovery Network partnership team.
  • Local delivery - Natural England is working with partners across the country to deliver hundreds of projects for nature at different scales. To find out more contact your local Natural England Nature Recovery Network area lead.
  • Funding - there are a range of existing and new funding streams available to support delivery of nature recovery projects at different scales including the Nature for Climate Fund, Existing Countryside Stewardship Schemes, Biodiversity Net Gain, Funding in Protected Landscapes and Landscape Recovery Pilots. Your local Natural England Nature Recovery Network area lead can advise on the latest available funding.
Who to Contact in Natural England: Nature Recovery Network Senior Advisers
  1. Northumbria - TBC
  2. Cumbria -
  3. Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire -
  4. Cheshire to Lancashire -
  5. East Midlands -
  6. West Midlands -
  7. West Anglia -
  8. Norfolk and Suffolk -
  9. Thames Solent -
  10. Wessex -
  11. Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly -
  12. Sussex and Kent -

This image provides a list of who to Contact in Natural England: Nature Recovery Network Senior Advisers


Current practice – who is doing what and how can we learn?

Case studies showcasing approaches and experience from local authorities delivering nature recovery activities to support the Nature Recovery Network will be developed and uploaded to this page as the project progresses.

We will also be including useful links signposting to work that local authorities are already delivering which will be updated on a rolling basis. Were interested in featuring other work that is being delivered so please contact