There are 11 Living Landscapes schemes across Wales (see attachments below) and more than 100 across the UK. Together they cover more than more than 1.5 million hectares.
(opens new window) Scroll down for Welsh examples.
Naturally functioning landscapes
Each Living Landscape scheme covers a large area of land: a naturally functioning landscape (such as a river catchment) often encompassing several Wildlife Trust reserves and other important wildlife areas. The schemes see individual Wildlife Trusts in Wales working with partners, landowners and local communities to restore the natural landscape.
These local schemes are all pieces of the jigsaw that will combine to form the wider Living Landscape we envisage: a national network of high-quality natural areas for people and wildlife.
Each Living Landscape scheme is made up of:
1. Core areas of high quality wildlife habitat
These are usually protected areas such as nature reserves or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). These are the vital sanctuaries from which wildlife will be able to re-emerge into the wider landscape once it is restored.
2. Connectiing corridors between core areas
Continuous corridors of suitable habitat, such as river valleys or diverse hedgerows, act as ‘wildlife highways’ allowing species to travel through areas and disperse through the landscape to find suitable living conditions. As our climate changes these increase in importance.
Habitats may also be connected by a series of stepping stones rather than a large swath of continuous habitat. Stepping stones are smaller, unconnected natural areas, pockets of protected land that act as stop-off points for wildlife on the move – for example a series of copses in open grassland.
3. Permeable areas across the whole landscape
Land between the core areas and connecting habitats needs be more accessible to wildlife. It may not all be pristine habitat but we can make changes to the way that land is managed so that it is easier for wildlife to move through and re-colonise the landscape.
It is also important that we manage the wider countryside more sustainably so that we can continue to benefit from the essential ecosystem services provided by the natural environment. Creating A Living Landscape will help to maintain and enhance the natural processes that provide us with essentials such as clean air and water, healthy soils, food and flood management.
Joining the dots
In achieving A Living Landscape we will continue to:
• Restore and enhance existing wildlife-rich places including Wildlife Trust reserves, Local Wildlife Sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
• Recreate vital wildlife habitats throughout Living Landscape scheme areas.
• Reconnect habitats by creating wildlife corridors.
The wider landscape
We also want to make the wider landscape more wildlife-friendly, so that wildlife is not restricted to reserves but is present everywhere. Through A Living Landscape we are influencing land use policy and land management in the wider countryside, making it easier for wildlife to move around and providing more opportunities for wildlife to re-colonise the landscape.
People and communities
A Living Landscape aims to reconnect people with the natural world and promote the benefits it provides - from the technical and functional (food production, clean water), to the spiritual (nature makes people happy!)
We work closely with local communities to promote the wildlife on their doorstep. Living Landscape schemes improve access to wildlife and green spaces and provide opportunities for recreation, education and hands-on volunteering. In fact, our volunteers are often vital to the success of the schemes.
Sustainable local economies
Many Living Landscape schemes also make sustainable, low carbon contributions to the local economy by providing employment opportunities, promoting locally grown food or marketing conservation grade beef from grazing herds.
How you can get involved
Creating A Living Landscape will also help to reconnect people with the natural world, providing accessible greenspace and ensuring that wildlife is part of everyone’s everyday lives. People are key to achieving A Living Landscape and if you are interested there you can find out more from your local Wildlife Trust