Practitioners’ guide to Resilient Ecological Networks

Responding to our nature and climate emergencies by designing Resilient Ecological Networks

Wales is responding to the nature and climate emergencies which threaten our well-being. Nature recovery is key to rebuilding ecological resilience (defined) and sustaining the benefits that it provides us. The rebuilding needs to be done at a faster pace and larger scale if we are to reduce the potential impacts of these two emergencies.

Habitats and species more resilient to damaging changes if they are diverse, have enough space, are in good condition and have multiple connections across the landscape. Thinking at a landscape scale about managing integrated habitat networks to improve resilience and maintain or enhance nature (biodiversity) is a relatively new outlook. It’s one that shapes not only the way landscape features are managed but also how different stakeholders could co-operate to achieve multiple environmental and socio-economic benefits. In Wales, we’ve coined the term Resilient Ecological Networks to describe this approach. It’s a new way of working for many sectors so NRW has published a practitioners’ guide which offers practical advice on using this approach.

What’s in the practitioners’ guide to Resilient Ecological Networks

The guide provides practitioners with a three-step decision support framework for designing Resilient Ecological Networks based upon the principles of the sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR). There are links to a wide range of resources and checklists at every step with clearly defined key tasks. The reader is introduced to NRW’s definition of ecosystem resilience with its attributes of diversity, extent, condition and connectivity. The role of core areas and the intervening mix of land-uses in Resilient Ecological Networks are described simply. Ecological “rules of thumb” and directions of travel for building resilience are provided to help stakeholders and practitioners to identify priorities and actions. Stakeholder involvement is fundamental to the long-term existence and maintenance of Resilient Ecological Networks, so advice is offered on how to support their participation.

This guide is one of a range of products under development to meet the Welsh Government’s aspiration in the Natural Resources Policy to promote Resilient Ecological Networks. More announcements will follow in the medium term.

The audience for the practitioners’ guide to Resilient Ecological Networks

A wide variety of practitioners could use this guide but especially those involved in partnership projects and plans. The guide is suitable for: Local Authorities and other public sector bodies, environmental non-governmental organisations and community groups, businesses, land managers and consultancies involved with land-use enterprises and projects.

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