A newly formed partnership called Nature Connected has published a detailed environmental study of Merseyside and Warrington to inform sustainable growth and economic policy.
The 78-page report, Nature at Work, maps what the authors call green infrastructure and sets a framework for making it "work harder to support economic and social aspirations, whilst also safeguarding their natural capital".
Nature at Work will serve as an evidence base for Liverpool city region and Warrington's green infrastructure to help inform decisions about land use, planning and management. It will be used to support lobbying for green infrastructure to be planned and managed as a critical infrastructure, and to help identify activities and actions at a city region level
that meet identified investment priorities.
The report, which cost £80,000 to produce and was funded by the Mersey Forest and Natural England, sets out six priorities for green infrastructure:
- Setting scene for growth: maximising low carbon economy through strategic planning
- Supporting health and well-being: Recognising importance of enjoying natural environment
- Adapting to climate change
- Providing recreation, tourism and leisure
- Enhancing ecological framework
- Developing rural economy
The report and Nature Connected partnership were launched at an event on Thursday in Liverpool. Speakers included Robert Hough, chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership; Sheena Ramsey, chief executive of Knowsley Council, Dr William Bird, an international expert on health and the natural environment, and Professor Roy Haines-Young, a leading environmental scientist.
Gideon Ben-Tovim, former Labour leader of Liverpool City Council and chairman of Nature Connected, said: "Nature Connected will work to establish a new way of thinking that will contribute to a sustainable Liverpool City Region.
"There already some really good examples of how we are using the natural environment to support new jobs and businesses, improve health and support education. We want to help these good practices become more widely adopted.
"Our Nature at Work report identifies how we can invest in our natural environment and strengthen our overall proposition as a city region to help individuals, businesses and communities thrive."
The natural environment makes up nearly 80% of the area of Merseyside. The report estimates "that cleaning our air and water, providing food and fuel, as well as providing places to play and relax, is worth £100bn a year to the area. The report identifies over 8,000 jobs associated with the natural environment."
Partners in Nature Connected include Arup, Riverside, Atlantic Gateway, the Mersey Forest, local authorities, Peel, NHS, Merseyside BioBank, Liverpool Vision, Environment Agency and the Local Nature Partnerships for Cheshire & Warrington and Liverpool, set up in 2010 following the government's Environment White Paper.
The full Nature at Work report is available to download at www.merseyforest.org.uk/nature-at-work