Action Plan to increase biodiversity in the Royal Borough agreed by Cabinet

Creating spaces for nature. Creating a sustainable borough of opportunity and innovation

An action plan to increase biodiversity in the Royal Borough through positive habitat management measures and partnership working has been agreed by Cabinet.

The Biodiversity Action Plan aims to provide 30% of land in the borough as a space for nature by 2030 - in line with the national Wildlife Trusts ‘30 by 30’ campaign - and signals the council’s commitment working with partners to improve the natural environment.

It sets out an action plan covering the next four years and has been jointly developed with local wildlife and conservation groups with input from the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT). Feedback has also been sought from residents as well as the borough’s farming community.

The overarching plan contains individual action plans for the main habitat types in the borough. These are:

•    Woodland
•    Grassland
•    Waterways
•    Standing water
•    Urban.

These provide a comprehensive list of practical actions the council and its partners can take to improve biodiversity in the borough and were agreed in partnership with key stakeholders and community groups. The plan will help ensure future projects can be prioritised to maximise the biodiversity benefits.

The plan also commits to working in partnership with the farming community and members of the council’s Rural Forum in the coming year to deliver a farmland habitat action plan for the borough. This follows further engagement work with the farming community to ensure its views were heard. 

Councillor Donna Stimson, Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, said: “This plan creates a robust set of steps to help us increase biodiversity across the borough through better data, partnership working and direct action. We all have a role to play in creating spaces for nature and to help protect and enhance the habitats we have in the borough for the benefit of wildlife and ecosystems. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped shaped the plan. 

“Although the borough has large, urbanised areas, it is also rich in biodiversity and contains habitats which provide excellent homes for numerous rare and threatened species. We must take action to safeguard and improve these environments. We want to be a borough where the community works together to achieve a sustainable future, and we are looking forward to working with all parties in the borough to deliver this plan. A key action within our Environment and Climate Strategy is a commitment to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan for the borough, and improving our natural environment is a priority in our Corporate Plan.

“I’m delighted that the plan has been created collaboratively with key local community partners, and the BBOWT worked intensively with the council to ensure the plan supported its overall vision. We have also consulted further with our farming community as we recognise the expertise that farms have across the borough and want to utilise this to create a habitat action plan which is collaborative and inclusive.

“The council is a major landowner in the borough and already maintains a network of 23 wildlife areas across the borough. We will work closely with existing partners such as Groundwork South and community groups to deliver the action plan and will ensure it enables others to act by providing support and the loaning of equipment where required.”

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We want to see more nature everywhere, so we’re delighted to see such a positive step forward for people and wildlife in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. With nature and climate in crisis, it’s vital we put our natural world at the heart of all our local decision making. This much-needed local action plan will do just that, protecting and restoring nature in this beautiful region. We’re thrilled to have helped provide some of the science behind it.”

Cabinet agreed yesterday (Thursday 15 December) to approve the Biodiversity Action Plan and the decision is subject to the standard call-in period.