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South West Biodiversity Implementation Plan

The South West Biodiversity Implementation Plan (BIP) was launched in July 2004. The natural environment is generally acknowledged as a major asset to the people of the South West, both in terms of quality of life and as a significant asset to the local economy, particularly in the tourism, farming and fishing industries.

The South West BIP sets out a framework of policy, priorities and actions to assist in a more integrated approach to delivering our biodiversity aims. The BIP is our contribution towards the 'Biodiversity Strategy for England' and aims to influence regional strategies, plans and policies, such as the Regional Spatial Strategy and regional agri-environment scheme targeting.

The aim of the BIP is to:

To enable the UK biodiversity plans to be implemented at the regional and local level; To enable organisations that function at a regional (or similar administrative boundaries) to recognise those conservation priorities relevant to their boundaries; To inform regional planning of the main biodiversity issues within the South West; To ensure the best possible information base on which decisions can be made.

Alongside the BIP are habitat targets for the South West which were published by BRERC in March 2006.

Key Programmes of Work

The South West BIP identifies key programmes of work under five key sectors:

Farming and Food

A farming community which is able to provide excellence in managing semi-natural habitats that are dependant on farming and also provides enhanced conditions for the maintenance and return of biodiversity to arable land and improved grassland.

Water and Wetlands

Healthy and biologically rich rivers, lakes and wetlands in a landscape managed for the sustainable use of water. This means taking an integrated approach to land and water management, with active support from local communities, recognising and benefiting from the social, economic and environmental gains.

Woodlands and Forestry

Woodlands and forests managed and created to enhance both woodland and non-woodland habitats and species populations, which at the same time provide sustainable goods, environmental services and recreational benefits enhancing people's quality of life.

Towns, Cities and Development

Nature conservation to be fully incorporated in the new, more spatially oriented, land-use planning system. All towns and cities to maximise the contribution areas of natural green space make to biodiversity, thereby enhancing the quality of life of urban residents, workers and visitors. Gardens to be valued as biodiversity resources in their own right.

Coastal and Marine Environment

Biologically diverse, clean, healthy and productive coasts and seas, which reconcile human needs with the conservation and restoration of wildlife habitats, as far as possible through natural processes.

Generic Priorities

There are also generic priorities that are relevant to all of the sectors (and that are compatible with the South West Environment Strategy), these are:

1. Maintain and enhance biodiversity by:

- sensitively managing existing habitats,
- expanding and re-establishing links between fragmented sites and,
- where appropriate, managing at a larger, functional scale (landscape, ecosystem or catchment).

2. Develop integrated sustainable land management practices

- that safeguard and enhance the region's biodiversity whilst also bringing benefits to society, the economy and environment.

3. Increase awareness and understanding of the importance of biodiversity

to the region's health, quality of life and economic productivity and develop wider support and active engagement.

4. Understand and manage the dynamic processes of change

(e.g. climate change) and develop long-term sustainable approaches within the region that focus on the quality, extent and diversity of habitats.