Futurescapes is the RSPB’s contribution to landscape-scale conservation, a growing movement among UK conservation groups to provide rich habitats for wildlife and diverse green spaces for people to enjoy in the countryside.
Futurescapes is a partnership effort among the RSPB, fellow environment organisations, local communities, businesses and government bodies to develop a vision for a wildlife-rich countryside in selected areas and to work together to achieve it.
These are the selected examples of successful Futurescapes projects.
Futurescapes is generously supported by the EU LIFE+ Communications Programme.
The Thames Estuary is an enormous Futurescapes project, covering over 1,000 km² from Tower Bridge to the open sea. Working with others, the RSPB aims to make London a world-class city benefiting from a world-class environment.
The Futurescapes vision for the Thames Estuary integrates biodiversity into the range of socio-economic activities in the region. A new internationally important marine area is being proposed, which will include the entire wider Thames Estuary, east of Sheerness. The estuary is home to a huge number of birds. Every year, 300,000 migrant birds rely on the area for feeding and roosting. The estuary is home to four World Heritage Sites, four National Nature Reserves, 29 Yacht Clubs and over 70 wharves, terminals and port facilities, as well as being the setting for national regeneration initiatives associated with the Thames Gateway, the London 2012 Olympics and offshore wind farms.
In such an extensive area, partnerships are key to success and among them are a very strong working relationship with the Port of London Authority, Local Authorities and Regeneration partnerships, CLG, Environment Agency, Natural England, other NGOs and businesses. The project area includes eight Ramsar sites (internationally important wetland sites), 10 Special Protection Areas (SPAs, designated under European legislation) and 21 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
With its focus around the Firth of Forth SPA, this Futurescape includes areas of international importance for wintering wading birds and wildfowl.
At the heart of Central Scotland, it also has a long history of industrial and agricultural use that has resulted in loss of valuable habitat over centuries.
With new pressures from development, climate change and disturbance to the birds using the Forth, there is a need for action on a big scale to ensure this rich biodiversity interest is maintained and to make the most of the exciting opportunities available for sustainable flood management and climate change mitigation.
RSPB’s vision is for large-scale habitat creation of over 2,000 ha around the Falkirk and Alloa area, centred on our Skinflats nature reserve. By creating a network of new wetland habitats including saltmarsh, mudflat and reedbed, the RSPB will deliver for wildlife and help to achieve a wide range of other socio-economic benefits.
In particular, we will work in partnership with local authorities and land managers to maximise opportunities for sustainable flood management, recreation and education in an area within easy reach of the majority of Scotland’s population.
RSPB (BirdLife Partner in the UK)
Aidan Lonergan, aidan.lonergan(at)rspb.org.uk
The Gwent Levels is an extensive area of coastal floodplain, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats. It is of enormous importance to the region.
There is the potential to improve the value of the habitats and bring about significantly greater benefits for wildlife, as well as the quality of life for the people of Newport and visitors to the area. Using wildlife as a driver for regeneration will deliver multiple benefits for water quality and flood risk management, working with the Environment Agency Wales and other partners.
RSPB’s Futurescapes programme aims to highlight these issues and to realise the potential that working in partnership can bring. The Newport Wetlands Environmental Education and Visitor Centre, run by the RSPB and developed in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales and Newport City Council, will provide a focal point for this Futurescape.