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Nature Improvement Areas: Thousands more hectares for our wildlife

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Nearly 20,000 hectares of natural habitat – the equivalent of almost 23,000 football pitches – has been created, restored or preserved across England over the past three years thanks to an innovative £7.5 million government project.

Published today, the ‘Monitoring and Evaluation of Nature Improvement Areas: Final Report’ showcases the achievements of the 12 Nature Improvement Areas – established in 2012 with funding from Defra – in helping protect wildlife and connect people with nature, while providing a boost to rural economies.

From the vast green plains of the Humberhead Levels to the glacial landscapes of the Meres and Mosses wetlands and the urban backdrop of the Greater Thames Marshes, the three-year initiative saw local authorities, communities, conservation groups and the private sector come together to change and improve local areas in both rural and urban locations. This unique partnership approach means these natural spaces now not only provide a sanctuary for wildlife to thrive, but also ensure people can enjoy them for generations to come.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said “Our beautiful natural environment is vitally important to our national identity. By combining government investment with community action these 12 Nature Improvement Areas have delivered real results for local environments and have built a justifiable sense of pride – bringing an astonishing 47,000 days of volunteer time to the natural world.”

We owe a huge thanks to the many many people who made these projects possible. We must now look to make sure these remarkable results are long lasting and help to connect the British public with nature. The work of the Nature Improvement Areas will be central to how we think about the environment over the next twenty-five years.

In total, work across the areas has preserved or enhanced over 13,500 hectares of habitat, such as the 1,700 hectares of woodland and wetland in Morecambe Bay, while an additional 5,000 hectares of habitat has been created, providing much-needed homes for our precious wildlife.

The Nature Improvement Areas have also helped people reconnect with nature, with volunteers contributing over 47,000 days, school children earning their green fingers by planting trees, and communities getting involved in decision making.

Thanks to work carried out through the initiative, the areas could now see a boost to tourism, helping to generate jobs and enhance our valuable rural economy which is worth £210 billion to the UK’s growing prosperity.

Natural England Chairman Andrew Sells said “I warmly congratulate all 12 Nature Improvement Areas on the enormous contribution they have made to conservation in such a short space of time. It is clear that this approach to coordinated landscape scale activity in England has delivered multiple benefits.”

The positive lessons learnt from this initiative serve as shining examples of what can be achieved by an ‘outcomes focused partnership approach’ and I hope that inspires others to follow suit in the future.

Learnings from the Nature Improvement Areas will now help to informDefra’s 25 year plan for action on the environment which will be published later in the year as part of a comprehensive, long-term vision to protect the country’s natural heritage.

Notes to editors

  1. The full ‘Monitoring and Evaluation of Nature Improvement Areas: Final Report’ is available at randd.defra.gov.uk
  2. Nature Improvement Areas were established to create joined up and resilient ecological networks at a landscape scale. They are run by partnerships of local authorities, local communities and landowners, the private sector and conservation organisations with funding provided byDefra and Natural England.
  3. The 12 projects were chosen after a competitive process announced in the Natural Environment White Paper. They are:
    • Birmingham and the Black Country
    • Dark Peak
    • Dearne Valley Green Heart
    • Greater Thames Marshes
    • Humberhead Levels
    • Marlborough Downs
    • Meres and Mosses
    • Morecambe Bay Limestones and Wetlands
    • Nene Valley
    • Northern Devon
    • South Downs Way Ahead
    • Wild Purbeck
  4. All Natural Improvement Areas have business plans in place that run until at least 2020.
  5. The Nature Improvement Area partnerships mobilised resources with an equivalent value of £26.2 million, including the financial value of volunteer time and services in-kind, in addition to initial government grant funding. Of this total, £15.3 million was from non-public sources such as private sector and NGO funding.
  6. For more information on this press release, contact the Defra press office on 020 7238 6140.

Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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