Page last updated at 23:38 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 00:38 UK

RSPB calls for radical changes to conservation in UK

Red kite
The RSPB says more space needs to be created for nature

All developments and areas in the UK should have an element of nature conservation built-in to protect wildlife, the RSPB has suggested.

It says conservation must move beyond nature reserves and protected sites and take in the whole landscape.

Industrial sites, farmland and residential areas should all be targeted as potential habitat, it says.

Among the first of the so-called "Futurescapes" it wants to develop is the Thames estuary.

Others "Futurescapes" could include the Wiltshire Chalk Grasslands, the Humberside Levels, the North Wales Moors and the tidal zone of the Inner Forth.

Aidan Mr Lonergan, manager of the RSPB's "Futurescapes" programmes, said protecting wildlife in fragmented "islands" of habitat was not enough to reverse losses and cope with rising temperatures.

'Sustainable way'

He said the RSPB - the UK's biggest conservation organisation - would continue to buy and manage nature reserves - and work with key species such as red kites, cirl bunting and corncrakes to bring them back from the brink of extinction - but "more space for nature" needed to be created.

"We're looking for opportunities in the wider landscape to work with partners to provide green space. Green space is good for the economy, it's good for people and its good for nature," he said.

The RSPB said it is teaming up with other conservation groups, businesses, local authorities and communities to create "Futurescapes" in more than 30 large-scale areas.

Plans around the Thames estuary include converting old landfill sites, farmland and industrial wasteland into green spaces or wetlands for wildlife and local people.

The conservation charity owns or manages 40 square kilometres of land for wildlife on the Thames, and has spent more than £50m regenerating land in the region.

Mr Lonergan said some of the RSPB's partners in the Futurescape projects around the country might seem "unlikely bedfellows".

But he said the challenge of protecting wildlife was too great for any one organisation to do on its own and a wide range of groups needed to help manage the countryside in a sustainable way.

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