What’s a ‘Local Nature Partnership’ and why do we need one?
Devon’s natural environment is amazing. Our wildlife is extraordinary, our landscapes breathtaking. The ecosystem services it provides from food and fuel to flood prevention and business opportunities are critical. It’s Devon’s biggest asset and one of the main reasons we want to work and live here.
But we face big challenges. Devon’s economy is hampered by low wages and seasonal employment, our population is predicted to rise by 20% between 2008 and 2033, there are health and wealth inequalities. At the same time, our native wildlife species and habitats are under pressure, with only 36% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and 32% of rivers classed as being in good condition.
More than ever we need to strengthen the connection between Devon’s communities, economies and environment. We need to ensure that the benefits of our natural environment are properly valued – and in turn, that those precious assets are safeguarded into the future.
It’s for these reasons that Natural Devon was established in 2012 bringing together everyone with an interest in securing the benefits of our natural environment. Put simply, we’re all about connecting people with nature.
Purpose and aims
Our purpose is to ensure that a healthy natural environment underpins a high quality of life across Devon, with a strong green economy and healthy communities.
Our three aims are:
- To protect and improve Devon’s natural environment We will protect and enhance our natural resources and achieve bigger, better, joined-up and resilient wildlife habitats, together with characteristic landscapes.
- To grow Devon’s green economy We will support and promote business opportunities which depend on and help to sustain a healthy natural environment.
- To reconnect Devon’s people with nature We will improve and promote access to the environment for residents and visitors, benefiting our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing and quality of life.
Meeting these aims won’t be easy, so to focus our efforts we’ve identified seven Priority Themes.
Natural Devon doesn’t employ staff. Rather we’re a diverse partnership of organisations working together to coordinate activities, pool resources and share ideas. There are three main elements to our structure:
- The Board: high-level thinkers and advocates drawn from various sectors who lead our strategy
- The Executive Group: who offer day-to-day support and take forward priorities.
- The Forum: boasting some 1,000 members at the last count and open to anyone interested in our work who wants to make a difference on the ground.
To learn more about Natural Devon please contact our coordinator Sarah Jennings of Devon County Council by email or call 01392 383871.
A strategic vision
Natural Devon doesn’t work in isolation. We’re proud to be part of an England-wide, strategic network of 48 Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) envisioned in the Government’s 2011 Natural Environment White Paper. Not only do we encourage links with our neighbours – Plymouth, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Somerset – but we’re ready to exchange ideas and best practice with LNPs across the country. (NB. Plymouth is represented by a separate LNP).
Within Devon many of the socio-economic challenges highlighted above are already recognised at the strategic level by partnerships such as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and Devon and Torbay Health and Wellbeing Boards. Natural Devon works alongside these and other partnerships to ensure that the value of nature is understood and integrated into decision-making.
How we add value
A one stop shop
Understanding the natural environment can be confusing. It impacts on our lives in so many ways and so many individuals and organisations are already out there working to make a difference. Natural Devon offers a simple, single point of contact for anyone wanting to learn about and engage with current efforts to safeguard our valuable natural assets.
Making things happen
Backed by Central Government, Natural Devon has the clout to get people talking to each other and to get things moving. We’re already seeing great results in areas ranging from human health to marine protection. We also have the networks to seek out new funding sources, new ways to attract payments for ecosystem services.
A clear voice and clear links
When an important message needs to get out there, Natural Devon will speak with a clear, authoritative voice. The events we hold further enable inspirational ideas and best practice to be exchanged, links to be made. Thanks to our workshops and conferences, cross-disciplinary partnerships have been forged, seeing educators working with health researchers, conservationists with transport experts.
Not just environmentalists
As should be clear by now, the natural environment is everyone’s business, it’s not just for those in pressure groups. In recognition of this, we actively encourage participation from individuals and organisations from many different sectors: health, tourism, transport, farming, education. The composition of our Board and Forum members reflects this. In return Natural Devon gets heard when important decisions are made; critically, we have a seat on Devon’s Local Enterprise Partnership.
Documents and evidence
Please click here to view publications which inform and influence our work.