Securing a healthy natural environment for today and the future

The most recent meeting of the Observatory’s Environment topic group reviewed evidence to “Identify Regional Natural Environmental Priorities for the West Midlands”. Evidence highlighted by the group will inform work by the region’s Defra Agenda Group (DAG) to identify regional environmental priorities. The DAG comprises Government Office for the West Midlands, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Advantage West Midlands and Animal Health.

The overall aim of the project is to respond to a request by the Delivery Board for Public Sector Agreement 28 – PSA 28 to secure a healthy natural environment for today and the future. Each region has to develop a set of regional priorities for the natural environment to meet this aim, and has the following objectives:

  • To establish spatially a set of regional priorities for our natural assets (air, water, soil, biodiversity, landscape and land management) and people’s relationship with them using the best regional evidence we have.
  • To catalogue the environmental evidence that we use to identify our priorities
  • To identify the issues associated with the priority environmental assets
  • To produce an integrated regional map of our natural environmental priorities to highlight key areas for targeted consideration of delivery, to alleviate threats or realise opportunity.

The project involves two phases:

  • Phase 1: To identify the regional issues and evidence associated with the natural environment themes of Air, Water, Soil, Biodiversity, Landscapes and Land Management. This is expected to be finished by the end of 2009.
  • Phase 2: To use the evidence to inform a Stakeholder Workshop in January 2010 at which the natural environmental priorities for the West Midlands will be agreed.

At the recent Environment topic group meeting, members were able to feed into the first phase of this project and provide useful feedback on the sources of data and evidence used to inform the process. Constructive comments were received on the visualisation of the evidence and other potential issues that should be considered at the final Stakeholder Workshop in January.

The final Stakeholder Workshop is being planned for the 13th January, where 25 key stakeholders will consider and validate the issues identified, and develop a small number of environmental priorities. If you have any interest on this project or want to know more, leave your details in the comment box below.

Thanks to Martin See (Environment Agency), Paul Cobbing (Government Office for the West Midlands) and Amanda Pearce (Natural England) for the information provided to produce this post.

(Photo by Island 2000 Trust Conservation)

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