Wildlife and biodiversity
Wildlife and biodiversity issues relate to the variety of plants and animals that exist within the Essex County Council area. Essex contains several valuable and rare habitats, from coastal saltmarshes and mudflats to ancient woodlands, trees and wetlands.
Essex County Council has a duty to ensure that these environments are managed and maintained, where it owns them or carries out activities that may affect them. It aims to ensure that the diverse array of plant and animal life across the county is protected, managed and recorded so that future generations will be able to enjoy them.
Essex County Council employs ecologists and works with a range of partners and experts in order to ensure that the county meets its statutory obligations and that decisions across a wide range of areas are informed by wildlife and biodiversity issues.
Essex County Council is involved in several schemes and initiatives designed to protect and enhance the biodiversity of Essex. The following projects and initiatives target specific subjects and issues relating to wildlife and biodiversity.
Our biodiversity checklist offers guidance on how to submit the appropriate level of information about biodiversity when making a planning application.
Local wildlife sites
The Essex local wildlife sites website provides information and advice for the 1600 local wildlife sites (LoWS) within the county. Working in partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust and a range of organisations, the local wildlife sites project identifies and surveys sites, provides advice on available grants and assists in carrying out essential works on these vital ecological resources.
The diverse range of habitats within Essex is reflected in the 1600 local wildlife sites (LoWS) that are spread around the county. They can support both locally and nationally threatened species and habitats and, together with the statutorily protected areas, they represent the minimum habitat we need to protect in order to maintain wildlife in Essex.
A website has been created in order to provide information about the Local Wildlife Site scheme and the importance of maintaining and managing these habitats. The sites range from woodland to saltmarshes, and support a variety of species, many of which are endangered.
The website contains a list of LoWs throughout Essex, broken down by location. It should be noted that many wildlife sites are on private land and so, unless there is a public footpath or permissive right of way in place, access is prohibited.
The website also features information for anyone interested in having an area of land declared a Local Wildlife Site. The criteria for acceptance are clearly stated.
Essex County Council is responsible for seven country parks, a heritage site, five mills and over 30 woodlands as well as two disused railway lines. We manage these sites to:
- give residents access to open spaces, woodland trails and historic parklands
- protect and encourage rare and important plants and animals
Essex County Council’s Wildlife and Biodiversity team work closely with the council owned Country Parks to ensure that the parks maintain and manage a diverse number of habitats within their borders and encourage native species to thrive.
The Visit Parks website contains information about each park, including its facilities, car parking costs and events.
Place Services provides integrated environmental assessment, planning, design and management services. The team helps organisations meet the requirements of the planning process, create practical design solutions and deliver environmental stewardship.
Special verges initiative
Special verges provide an invaluable habitat for wild flowers and other native species across the county. Essex County Council works with a range of partners to maintain and improve these important resources.
Roadside verges provide a valuable habitat for a range of native plant and animal species that are under threat elsewhere. Over 100 sites across the county have been designated as Special Roadside Verges. Essex County Council works with a range of partners including Essex Wildlife Trust to maintain and manage these verges, ensuring that they are effectively managed and continue to support a wide range of species.
Further information can be obtained by contacting Essex Wildlife Trust or by contacting Essex County Council Natural Environment Team.