Top marks for green Birmingham

By on 15/12/2009 in News

Birmingham City Council plans to attract even more wildlife to the city's green spaces after earning top marks for its commitment to biodiversity.

With otters returning to Birmingham and wild orchids growing on a number of sites, the city has been ranked fourth in a national league table for wildlife and natural environments.

In the first ever national survey of its kind, a staggering 98 per cent of Birmingham City Council controlled Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) have been judged to be in favourable management.

Meanwhile 68 per cent of Sites of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINCs) are also under favourable management.

Launched last year, the Improved Local Biodiversity Indicator (NI 197) is an annual healthcheck looking at how conservation management is implemented.

In layman's terms that means projects like the management of hay meadows to encourage the return of wildflowers

Another success story has seen the return of otters to Birmingham waterways in recent years - this is clearly illustrated by the increasing number now found in Kingfisher Country Park.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sports and Culture, said: “These figures demonstrate Birmingham City Council's very real commitment to biodiversity and nature conservation.

“The results are a credit to the people involved. That means parks staff and the often unsung army of volunteers who take a great pride in our parks and open spaces.

“The importance of our green spaces cannot be overestimated and wide variety of plants, animals, birds and insects found across the city only add to the quality of life in Birmingham.

“We're committed to further improving on our impressive record and will work closely with groups like Birmingham Open Spaces Forum and the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust to do just that.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Sites have been judged to be in positive management if the management contributes to sustaining the features of the site for which it was originally designated.

In Birmingham, the Local Sites system is overseen by a Local Sites partnership comprising representatives from the City Council (Parks and Planning sections), Natural England, the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, and EcoRecord (the biological database for the Black Country and Birmingham).

A methodology for monitoring NI 197 was discussed and endorsed at the annual Local Sites partnership meeting in April 2009, following initial work by the City Council to collate baseline information. The methodology has been based on the most recent Defra guidance (Revised guidance note - December 2008).

Birmingham operates a two-tier system of Local Sites. Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) are important at the county-level (ie Birmingham and Black Country-wide) because of their ecological interest; these sites are subject to specific policies in the UDP/LDF. Sites of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINCs) are of importance at the city-level (ie Birmingham-wide) and are subject to policies in the Nature Conservation Strategy for Birmingham (adopted SPG). The Local Sites partnership agreed that it is appropriate for both SINCs and SLINCs to be included in NI 197 monitoring. This approach is consistent with that adopted by neighbouring Black Country local authorities.

Birmingham currently has 56 SINCs and 110 SLINCs, a total of 166 Local Sites. Many of the City's SINCs were identified by the then Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) in their 1989 publication “Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation in the West Midlands”. The majority of the City's SLINCs were formally identified in the Nature Conservation Strategy for Birmingham, following survey work in the late 1980s/1990s. Since that time, a proportion of SINCs and SLINCs have been reviewed; the City Council began a rolling programme of survey and assessment in 2004, and a formal evaluation and approval process was adopted by the City Council in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, a total of 38 sites were reviewed. Since 2007, however, there has been only very limited activity due to lack of resources. Where SINCs and SLINCs have not been formally reviewed it is assumed that they have retained their interest unless there is evidence to the contrary.

In line with Defra guidance, Sites of Special Scientific Interest within Birmingham (Sutton Park and Edgbaston Pool) have been excluded from the monitoring process. 

For further information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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