Either side of the new year, I visited three of the RSPB’s most impressive conservation projects in England.  Last week I was with RSPB colleagues exploring our work in the Pennines and the Lakes brought to life by short, winter-appropriate tours of Geltsdale and Haweswater (with the latter looking particularly picturesque after a dusting of snow); back in December, I returned to Wallasea Island for the first time since we breached the sea wall (in 2015) to see the impact of what is Europe's largest coastal habitat restoration project. 

In a year when we are making the case for new targets for nature’s recovery at home (through the Westminster Environment Bill and equivalent legislation across the UK) and globally (to replace the 2020 Aichi targets), we need to apply the lessons from what we have already achieved to help us deliver the step change that we need to address the climate and nature emergency.  As I have written previously, if we are successful in securing a new target of 30% of land to be well protected and managed for nature by 2030, we need a six-fold increase from where we are today, which based on condition assessments of terrestrial protected areas in the UK is just 5% of the UK. What's more, Defra is committed to providing 500,000 hectares of new habitat in England.

Given that I am returning to northern England in the spring, I thought today, I’d put a spotlight on what we have achieved through the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, offer my personal take on the key ingredients as to why it is so successful and say what it means for the future of coastal habitat creation.  It will be an attempt to continue my conditional optimism theme for the year.  You can familiarise yourself with the project by watching the video below.