A Nature Recovery Strategy is to be drawn up by East Devon District Council, in response to warnings about the decline of wildlife species and new legal requirements relating to building and development.

The State of Nature report on wildlife in the UK said one in six species are facing the threat of extinction in Great Britain. The report said most of the important habitats for nature are in poor condition, but restoration projects have clear benefits.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Cabinet has already agreed a Nature Recovery Declaration, and its Nature Recovery Strategy will follow next year.  It will build on the council's existing work to protect bats and wild birds, and restore important habitats.

Cllr Geoff Jung, Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said: "EDDC is committed to halting nature’s decline in East Devon with our Nature Recovery plans.

"The State of Nature report provides evidence and a timely reminder about the collective importance of our work, from managing local nature reserves to ensuring that nature recovery and biodiversity are embedded in our decision-making processes.

"New legal responsibilities through the Environment Act and the Environmental Improvement Plan, such as mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), as well as targets to reduce species at risk of extinction, will further help us with nature recovery. The current review of our Local Plan is seeking to set an ambitious target of 20 per cent BNG from development proposals.

"From January 2024, developers in England will be legally required to deliver 10 per cent BNG which means by law they must deliver a net positive for the local environment, for example by creating new habitats and green spaces."

James Chubb, EDDC’s Countryside Manager, said: "In contrast to the national picture, we have enjoyed a really positive year for biodiversity on our Local Nature Reserves. A series of bat surveys confirmed that all 16 of the species identified as present in the district are using one or more of the Local Nature Reserves. Water voles, considered to be endangered, are expanding their territories on Seaton Wetlands and are active near the reserve. This summer we welcomed the first ever breeding pair of avocet recorded in Devon to Seaton Wetlands, with all three chicks successfully fledging at the end of the summer.

"The presence of wildlife is a boost for the local economy. For example, Seaton Wetlands is on track to host 100,000 visitors in 2023 for the first time in its history."