WESTMORLAND and Furness is experiencing a ‘significant loss’ of biodiversity – a council report has stated.

A report titled ‘Nature and Biodiversity Action Plan Part One’ reveals that 80 per cent of land managed for wildlife within Westmoland and Furness has been ‘degraded in some way’ by human activity.

Members of the cabinet for Westmorland and Furness Council approved the ‘Nature and Biodiversity Action Plan Part One’ which lays out how the council will work with communities to protect and enhance biodiversity in the area.

According to the action plan 15 per cent of Westmorland and Furness is currently managed uniquely for wildlife, and only 20 per cent of this remains in good condition. The remaining 80 per cent of land managed for wildlife has been ‘degraded in some way by human activity’.

The action plan states: “Westmorland and Furness, like the rest of the UK, is experiencing a significant loss of biodiversity.

“Whilst it is home to a wide range of wildlife and often appears as a lush, green landscape, sadly biodiversity remains under threat from habitat loss, changing land-use, invasive species, pollution and climate change.”

Westmorland and Furness is home to a varied range of natural habitats in a unique landscape; from the coastal habitats in the south around Morecambe Bay, to the Lake District summit of Helvellyn, the action plan states.

According to the most recent State of Nature report published in 2023 nearly one in six of the more than ten thousand species assessed (16%) are at risk of being lost from Great Britain.

This figure is ‘even higher’ for groups such as birds with 43 per cent of the assessed species at risk as well as 31 per cent of amphibians and reptiles, the report adds.

Cabinet member for climate and biodiversity councillor Giles Archibald told the cabinet the landscape is ‘deteriorating’ and stated: “It’s been suggested we may be in the sixth mass extinction event.”

Cllr Archibald added: “We have a marvellous landscape; we have the opportunity to contribute disproportionately to the solution of this problem and I believe strongly we can solve this problem if we work together.”

The action plan adds: “Westmorland and Furness Council will be at the forefront of supporting nature recovery and the challenges that may appear; we will provide leadership working to support local nature recovery, aligning with national policies and supporting the work of local initiatives to deliver meaningful projects.”

According to the action plan a number of actions are taking place to protect biodiversity within Westmorland and Furness. The council previously approved £510,000 in funding to invest in initiatives to protect biodiversity and has a policy of delivering 10 per cent biodiversity net gain with developments.

The council will publish part two of the action plan at a later date which will outline in greater detail how the authority will work with other partners to address the ‘biodiversity crisis’

Members of the cabinet for Westmorland and Furness Council approved part one of the action plan on April 30 at Barrow Town Hall.