6 - Natural environment and biodiversity

Woodland path and pond

We are not only experiencing a climate emergency, but an ecological emergency too. Our wildlife, biodiversity and ecosystems are at just as much a risk of catastrophe as we are as human beings if action is not taken to protect our natural environment and halt climate change. We must acknowledge our planetary boundaries. Planting more trees, protecting and extending wild spaces for nature, increasing biodiversity, restoring our land to sequester carbon and building our resilience to flooding, will all contribute to mitigating the climate emergency.

Ongoing and completed

Over the last year, CBC has planted 1,200 trees across our parks, gardens and other land-based assets. We’ll be looking to work closely with GCC as they carry out their new tree planting programme in association with the Woodland Trust, whilst looking to produce a robust tree planting strategy of our own.

We continue to protect our existing green spaces and locally designated nature sites and endeavour to ensure public access to local authority-owned green spaces.

In March 2021, CBC resolved to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which aims "to actively restore biodiverse habitats, and to stop damaging our natural world through the production, transportation and disposal of the goods we consume". Moreover, new legally binding environmental targets are to be set and enforced as part of the Environment Act which became UK law in 2021. This legislation will protect and enhance our environment for future generations and aims to halt the decline in species by restoring natural habitats.


Priority in 2021-23

  • Update local planning strategies and work closely with otherauthorities, including GCC, to significantly increase tree cover across the borough and ensure existing trees are properly protected, to store carbon, support nature, aid flood protection and deliver health and wellbeing benefits. Increased canopy cover can also provide shade for people and buildings, cooling the air and ground temperatures in extreme heat
  • Manage council-owned land to increase biodiversity and reduce carbon pollution, i.e. through reduced pesticide use and mowing and increased planting of wildflowers and perennials

Priority in 2024-26

  • Focus on nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation. For example, work with a range of partners to develop opportunities for Natural Flood Management (NFM) schemes across the borough to help mitigate flooding and adapt to climate change, using nature to hold and slow water run-off
  • Seek to actively restore and expand ecosystems in line with the Environment Act 2021, with a focus on enhancing biodiversity and natural carbon sinks. This could be through market based mechanisms that improve and safeguard our natural environment, for example the development of a habitat bank for biodiversity net gain credits
  • Work with the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership and their Natural Capital mapping project to help identify nature and ecosystem restoration opportunities across Cheltenham, to reverse and restore habitats, support species and promote ecosystem quality and function

Priority in 2027-28

  • Encourage and influence the uptake of green roofs on roof-tops with green roof potential to help support urban greening in the community
  • Identify demand for allotments with a view to increasing allotment utilisation and developing land for community spaces and provide opportunities for those that may not have access to their own garden