Living Landscapes

© Allan Potts

Living Landscapes is a new vision for wildlife and people, and a new way of thinking about our natural environment. Developed by The Wildlife Trusts, the idea is that by thinking big and collaborating on a larger scale than ever before, we can improve the landscapes of the UK for the benefit of our wildlife and people, both now and into the long-term future.

To explore the campaign further, download our regional Living Landscapes map, visit Durham Wildlife Trust and check out The Wildlife Trusts' landscape-scale approach to nature conservation.

Imagine a North East where:

  • Our people interact more with their natural environment, where it is part of their everyday life - visiting and experiencing the natural world and being enriched in mind and body.
  • You can find peace and tranquility, away from the stresses and strains of urban life; lush woodlands alive with birdsong; heathlands, wild and unforgiving; vistas of magnificent rolling hills; miles of white sand.
  • We share a greener and more pleasant land for people to enjoy, a land more attractive to investment and where a series of large interconnected wildlife-rich, landscapes are developed for the benefit of our communities and wildlife.
  • The countryside is as rich in wildlife as it was 100 years ago, but helps maintain our climate, produces our food, and provides clean air and water – a countryside fit for the 21st Century.

This is what Living Landscapes are all about.

A new way of thinking...

Nature conservation in Britain has traditionally focused on the protection of special sites, whether designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), protected as nature reserves, or highlighted as locally important wildlife sites. This has been essential to slow the huge loss of wildlife across the British landscape over the last 50 years.

This approach has been successful in defending wildlife where it remains. But outside protected sites, once common and widespread species are in catastrophic decline. We need a new way to restore and rebuild the natural environment in the wider countryside and to bring wildlife into our towns and cities.


By developing Living Landscapes here in the North East, our aim is to create a region where:

  • Biodiversity in both urban and rural areas is maximized and connected.
  • Large scale environmental management helps people and wildlife to adapt to climate change.
  • Our river valleys, woodlands and flower-rich meadows are developed as important ‘connecting’ wildlife infrastructure.
  • Our coastal area and surrounding farmland continue to be rich in birds and other wildlife.
  • Our ‘Living Seas’ continue to be rich in life and better protected.
  • Our water and land are managed to help wildlife and people.

Restore, recreate, reconnect...

  • Isolated nature reserves and other protected sites are unlikely to be able to sustain wildlife in the long term. Wildlife restricted to isolated pockets in an otherwise hostile environment is vulnerable and unstable. Wildlife needs large areas or networks which allow it room to adapt and the chance to move freely.
  • We need to increase the ability of the environment to protect us from flooding and to soak up carbon dioxide (‘ecosystem services’). This will demand the restoration of extensive areas of natural habitat, particularly peatlands, wetlands and woodlands.
  • Better access to the natural environment helps improve mental and physical health, and improves quality of life. We need to bring wild places to more people, and bring more people to wild places.
  • The Wildlife Trusts are working to transform the environment we live in: restoring, recreating and reconnecting wildlife-rich spaces in rural and urban areas by working in partnership with local communities, landowners, schools and businesses.

The Wildlife Trusts have more than 100 Living Landscape schemes around the UK, where nature conservation work is helping to put wildlife back on the map outside our protected nature reserves and with the help of a wide range of partners and communities.