Bradford on Avon Biodiversity Survey & Nature Recovery Report

Overview

Bradford on Avon is a Wiltshire town with a distinctive heritage and significant green credentials. The town council declared a climate emergency in March 2019, following this up with the declaration of an ecological emergency in July 2020. At the time it was one of the first councils in the UK to have taken these steps. Having adopted a biodiversity policy, the council is now looking to enhance the wild nature on the land under its control through rewilding. This is part of a broader action to address the linked emergencies.

Project brief

In 2020, Ecosulis was commissioned to carry out biodiversity surveys and produce a nature recovery report for Bradford on Avon town council. This included site surveys on the ground, as well as aerial surveys with drones. As a tool to inform and promote nature recovery, the report was intended to stimulate creative thinking and discussion, rather than provide firm recommendations. It drew on the Ecosulis Natural Asset Framework, which is designed to help those managing land derive higher levels of value from the practice of managing and restoring natural areas. It also took account of rewilding principles and was underpinned by site surveys and ecological analysis.

"The nature recovery report from Ecosulis will be critical in ensuring that we can respond effectively to the ecological emergency that we all face - it highlights key areas that we need to protect, and provides meaningful and useful suggestions in how we can do so, through protection and development of key habitats."

Councillor Dominic Newton, Leader of Bradford on Avon Town Council

YEAR

2020-2021

Impact

manage Biodiversity

The nature recovery report suggested a wide range of site-specific measures that could be taken by Bradford on Avon’s stakeholders to enhance biodiversity – from the installation of bird and bat boxes to the elimination of pesticides and a reduction in grazing pressure.

Protect Habitats

Bradford on Avon contains a range of habitats – from the River Avon and riverside areas through to ancient woodland and agricultural land. Proposed measures in the nature recovery report would enhance these areas for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

empower-us-to-act People

Recovering nature in and around Bradford on Avon would benefits the town’s residents and visitors in a variety of ways, from improved health and wellbeing to enhanced opportunities for recreation and business.

How we added value.

Connecting nature

One of the main recommendations of the Nature Recovery Report was the development of a nature recovery network in and around Bradford on Avon, with a map generated to indicate where the actions of residents and businesses could have the greatest impact in terms of enhancing biodiversity and connecting nature. Such a network would help to restore ecotones (transitional areas between biological communities) and enhance the structural diversity of habitats, help to restore and/or mimic natural disturbance and features, and enhance the ability of wildlife to disperse through the town and create larger areas of contiguous habitat.

Managing change

As with most other UK towns, biodiversity in Bradford on Avon has been impacted by development. Nevertheless, our ecological surveys found areas within and around the town that still support biodiversity. Many of these are owned or managed by the council. With our ecological surveys establishing a baseline, the nature recovery report outlined how changes in management practice and specific actions to improve habitat could enhance biodiversity in these areas.

Co-creating a wilder town

A wilder, more biodiverse Bradford on Avon will benefit every resident, regardless of age or background, whether that be through cleaner air and water, enhanced health and wellbeing, or improved business opportunities. With the local council playing a guiding role, every resident – from farmers and other land managers, to small businesspeople and home owners – can contribute to the realisation of such a town.

Rewilding embraces the role of people and their cultural and economic connections to the place where they live. This means building coalitions and providing support based on respect, trust and shared values, connecting people of all backgrounds to co-create innovative ways of rewilding and deliver the best outcomes for communities and wild nature. Our Nature Recovery Report contained a wide range of recommendations to inspire the town’s stakeholders and facilitate such collaboration.

Want to learn more about rewilding and nature recovery?

Read more insights or explore our previous work.