Greenways, much more than just routes for walking and cycling.
In the UK we are facing a climate and ecological emergency.
Principally due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, climate change and changes to agricultural practices.
The survival of many species is threatened by an ever-shrinking amount of space for plants and animals to live and thrive in.
There's also a perilous lack of safe routes connecting habitats, causing wildlife populations to become isolated.
In response to this, Sustrans is developing greener, more biodiverse traffic-free paths on the National Cycle Network.
The linear geography of our greenways offers the potential to create exemplary habitats, with spaces and routes for wildlife to both live and travel.
Just like us, animals need to travel to thrive.
Pockets of wildlife-friendly habitats in urban areas are a great start, but they are only truly effective once connected.
Land-based animals require safe passage between habitats to allow populations to:
All needs which are easy for us as humans to recognise and empathise with.
As custodians of the National Cycle Network, it’s our responsibility to ensure that greenways contribute to improving national biodiversity.
As well as being custodians, we are landowners and developers, so it’s within our gift to make a positive difference to the natural world.
We do this by improving the management of our existing routes and by protecting and enhancing habitats when designing new ones.
And in doing so, we also serve our mission to make it easier for people to walk and cycle.
Because routes which are rich in nature and wildlife attract people, resulting in:
Sustrans is an environmental organisation.
However our work has the potential to negatively impact the environment if we fail to manage our land correctly or poorly plan new walking and cycling routes.
When managing land along the National Cycle Network, we don’t only want to conserve wildlife, we want to enhance it wherever possible.
And when developing land for new routes, we want every project that we’re involved with to have minimal ecological impact.
This means conforming to the requirements of all relevant wildlife legislation and wherever possible, protecting and nurturing wildlife too.
Which is why in 2010, we took on our first ecologist and have spent over a decade growing our in-house knowledge.
We now have a growing team of ecology experts working across England, Wales and Scotland.
They educate delivery teams and embed ecological principles and practices throughout our maintenance and delivery work.
By improving the way we manage our own estate and projects, we can encourage others, such as local authorities, to follow in our footsteps.
Our dedicated team make space for nature on the National Cycle Network by delivering a wide range of activities including:
Sustrans is committed to safeguarding nature on traffic-free paths of the National Cycle Network, now and always.
We’re continually growing our impact, with more and more greenways gaining a bespoke management plan every year.
Management plans set out how habitats are nurtured and protected.
They are executed by both colleagues and volunteers alike, under the direction of our ecology team.
The impact which we can have in improving UK biodiversity is highly significant when you consider that the National Cycle Network hosts more than 4,000 miles of traffic-free paths.
That’s a lot of safe homes and safe journeys for so many in the natural world.
If you see an animal or plant which you can identify on the Network, you can record this on iRecord within minutes. Records are verified by experts and support conservation research.
Take a walk or a ride in nature and discover the work of Sustrans volunteers on these 10 stunning greenways on the National Cycle Network.
The Greener Greenways project surveyed, protected and enhanced wildlife and biodiversity on the traffic-free paths of the National Cycle Network. The project ran UK-wide between 2013 and 2019.
Join us for a task day where activities may include: