8 Mar 2023

In the midst of a biodiversity and climate crisis in the UK, our local Nature Recovery Corridor project is providing a shining beacon of hope!

By working closely with a vast array of local people, community groups, schools, and fellow wildlife charities, the project has successfully brought a 15 square mile area (~25,000 football pitches!) across Chester back to life: restored hedgerows are buzzing with bees, new ponds are filling with aquatic life, wetlands are thriving with birdsong, and our charismatic mammals are once again roaming across large, wild landscapes.

Equally as important, new research has shown that the corridor is helping families to reconnect with nature and become conservation champions!

Find out about some of the amazing health and wellbeing benefits the project has contributed towards:

The Nature Recovery Corridor project achieved some great successes in its first year, but new research has shone a spotlight on just how much it’s impacted people in the area. Our Nature Recovery Corridor team conducted a survey with the project’s participants, and the results are incredible:

An infographic showing the impact of Chester Zoo's Nature Recovery Corridor project. Over 81% of participants reported improved well-being, over 75% reported an increased connection to nature, and over 85% gained new knowledge

Two respondents had the following to say about their involvement:

“I feel excited and motivated to engage with activities that nurture wildlife in my community. I feel proud of myself for participating. It’s very rewarding and satisfying to be part of such a worthwhile network.”

“I feel reaffirmed in my commitment to wildlife and wellbeing from being part of an encouraging and like-minded network.”

This new connection and knowledge form the perfect cocktail for empowering local community members to act for wildlife, which has had a huge snowball effect. Over half of the participants have since taken actions outside of the project to help protect the natural world, including an array of impactful and diverse activities:

Infographic showing activities taken part in for Chester Zoo's Nature Recovery Corridor project. Including sowing and planting native wildflowers, laying hedges and building ponds.

One respondent even planted 50 trees, hundreds of bulbs, and created a mini wildflower meadow!

As this project enters a new phase, the team is aiming to continue this work to eventually rewild across an astonishing 60 square mile area! That’s over half the size of Edinburgh worth of improved landscape for people and wildlife to enjoy. Research has shown that spending time in these green spaces has a range of benefits for our health and wellbeing, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and increasing physical activity level. Beyond this, the corridor’s thriving plant life will sequester more carbon from the atmosphere, helping to slow the pace of climate change.

Volunteers taking part in a Nature Recovery Corridor canal clean up
Volunteer groups have cleared five hectares of canal from the invasive plant floating pennywort, making the canal safer and more biodiverse.

Bigger still, this local initiative contributes to the international goals of the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework (a new commitment by 188 countries worldwide to live in harmony with nature by 2050) by boosting biodiversity conservation, promoting education and awareness, and supporting sustainable development. Our leadership also highlights how zoos can play a pivotal role in contributing to regional-scale conservation efforts that help reverse the current biodiversity crisis and why these efforts are important for achieving global targets.

The Nature Recovery Corridor is supported by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and has already created 13 jobs, including five trainees. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies and delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency, and the Forestry Commission. Further, we continue to build a strong, collaborative group of local organisations to deliver our ambitious targets and ensure the sustainability of this flagship project for nature on our doorstep.

Chester Zoo Nature Recovery Corridor partner logosBy bringing together and empowering a huge cross-section of the community and people from all walks of life, the Nature Recovery Corridor is an exemplary project that’s reconnecting people with nature and rewilding Chester. If you’re interested in supporting our nature recovery work in Northwest Cheshire, please get in touch.