What is biodiversity
Biodiversity is the variety of life. It encompasses the whole of the natural world from the commonplace to the endangered. In Leicestershire this includes the red kites, bumblebees and the flowers that appear in our grasslands. It is important to life in so many ways, the oxygen we breathe, the food that we eat, the energy that keeps us warm and power to fuel our transport and economies.
Safeguarding biodiversity in Leicestershire is a key feature of sustainability and crucial to the quality of life for local communities as it contributes to wellbeing and health, local economy and the environment. Unfortunately, we are all aware of the significant threat that biodiversity is under.
Parish councils along with other public bodies have a duty to conserve biodiversity and there are statutory duties they must carry out.
How you can get involved
There are several ways Parishes can choose to enhance and protect biodiversity the best place to start is with the creation of a Biodiversity or Environmental Policy or Action Plan.
Another positive way of engaging with biodiversity is to create a wildlife map of the local area.
Many species in the UK are given legal protection and it helps to be aware of what is required if these are in your local area.
Nature Spot is a way people can record the wildlife of Leicestershire and Rutland by submitting a sighting with or without a photo on the Nature Spot website.
where they are passed to local and national recording schemes. Other ways to become involved are with national projects such as the Big Garden Birdwatch and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS).
Create a wildflower verge
The Urban Wildflower Project was established last year with all parish councils being invited to participate. Parish councils will be contacted again this year with details of the plans. If your parish would like the county council to come and talk to them about the opportunities and benefits, please contact them on CSCParishes@leics.gov.uk.
More information on this can be found on the conservation and sustainability page and on the county council's wildflower scheme to bloom page.
Provide homes for swifts
Swifts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and under the NERC Act 2006 so local authorities in England. There is a need for 20,000 new swift nest sites each year to stabilise the population and there are many ways parishes and homeowners can help.
Become a hedgehogs hero
Leicestershire County Council are to be added to the Hedgehog Heroes Roll of Honour which has been introduced by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, your Parish could be too. They provide stickers to be affixed to equipment to alert workers to check for hedgehogs before carrying out work on the verges. More information on this can be found on the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website where you can find lots of other interesting information including what to do if you find a hedgehog in your garden.
Think of a project and apply for some funding
The SHIRE Environment Grant programme is now open to submissions for their 2022/23 programme. They provide grants of up to £3,000 to community groups who wish to deliver projects focused on waste prevention and reuse, reducing carbon emissions and improving biodiversity.
Details of the current programme are available on the Leicestershire communities website.
Some examples of where this has been taken up by the community are:
- Burbage Parish Council has secured funding through the programme towards the planting of new, wildlife-friendly hedgerows around the Britannia Road recreation ground. The planting will form part of a broader biodiversity project which will include the planting of new trees and putting up bat, bird and owl boxes.
- A ‘green gym’ has been approved in Measham, which aims to create a food growing space based on permaculture principles, in order to attract native species of insect and provide much needed food sources for people and nature within the urban area; and
- Broughton Astley Parish Council who are using the grant funding to improve species of plant on four roadside verges.
Attend some training
Free biodiversity training sessions are available to all parishes and communities within Leicestershire and Rutland. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.
Further information on specific topics are available as factsheets listed below:
More extensive information can be found on the factsheets listed below: