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£7.5m pledged for new nature zones

More than £7.5million is set to be spent on revolutionising the English countryside in a bid to save threatened birds, bees and butterflies. The Government has pledged the money to create 12 unique “nature zones” in a bid to preserve wildlife for future generations. The project will see the creation of new wildlife havens and habitat restoration projects and will cover many hundreds of miles of countryside. A recent Natural England audit identified 500 animals and plants that have become extinct in modern times. It also pinpointed 1,000 threatened species.

The 12 new nature zones

* One zone will see an unused industrial brownfield site turned into a heathland with flowering yellow gorse and purple heather. * A 37-acre coastal lagoon is set to be created, where it’s hoped terns, wading birds and egrets, as well as butterflies such as the yellow-toned swallowtail, will come to call home. * Other ideas include a network of ­“dewponds”, which will be made on hilltops. It is hoped that these ponds will act as stepping stone sanctuaries for frogs and toads, as well as rare plants and migrating birds. A Government spokesperson said: “The new areas are seen as an effective way to turn old industrial workings, defunct quarries and other redundant parcels of land into thriving wildernesses. “The 12 ­successful National Improvement Areas have been chosen from among 76 groups who competed for funding.” The 12 nature zones are a major part of the Government’s “greenprint” for the countryside, which took into account more than 15,000 suggestions from the public. Over the past two centuries, England has lost 90 per cent of its heaths and most wetland sites. Only 12 per cent of its countryside is wooded compared with 44 per cent in neighbouring European countries. This habitat destruction has led to a decline of many wildlife species, including the lapwing, which has seen numbers drop by 45% and the skylark by 53%. Farmland and woodland species have been hit hard and even the once common starling has declined by 85%. Do you think we are doing enough to save our wildlife species in the UK?

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