Natural Environment

North Kent Marshes by WM

Kent is one the UK’s most wildlife-rich counties, a result of its varied geology, long coastline, landscape history southerly location and proximity to mainland Europe.  Its important wildlife habitats include estuaries, chalk cliffs, woodlands, and chalk Downland, and encompass some of the South East’s most iconic landscapes, such as the shingle headland of Dungeness and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Nonetheless, it is clearly the case that the last century has seen major losses in Kent’s wildlife. During this period, 30 species of wild plant, eight species of butterfly, one amphibian, one reptile, 10 bird species, and two species of bat all became extinct in the county. This excludes consideration of groups not covered in the following chapters; for example, the Red Squirrel and 3 species of bumblebee were also lost during the 20th century. In addition to this, many of the species that remain have seen big population declines, including many species of butterflies and moths, birds and wildflowers of farmland, wetland plants, Adders and Common Toads.

 The causes of these losses and declines are various. However, amongst the most important are:

  • Direct loss of land of value to wildlife to built development or intensive farming, which has reduced and fragmented populations of wild plants and animals.
  • Intensification of the way land is farmed, particularly the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers, which has resulted in losses of wildlife across the wider landscape, and has increased nutrient levels on land and in water.
  • Changes in the management of woodland, resulting in loss of open space in woods and forests.
  • Climate change, which increasingly shapes which species are, and are not, able to live successfully in Kent.

What’s the Partnership doing?

Our main priority is to set the strategic direction for conservation and enhancement of the natural environment in Kent.  Using the results from the Kent Habitat Survey 2012 and previous work carried out by the Kent Biodiversity Partnership will help us achieve this aim.  We will use the Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) to identify where action should take place and we will develop a policy framework using the habitat targets to input into local plans and other strategic planning.

There are several important documents produced by the Kent Biodiversity Partnership that we must keep in mind.  They are:

- State of Kent Wildlife Report 2011- PDF
- 10 Years of Biodiversity Achievements- PDF
- Making Space of Nature- A review of England's Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network- PDF

The Partnership is also responsible for designating Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) across Kent. The LWS scheme is managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust on behalf of the Partnership and the criteria for the designation can be found here.