NATURE-LOVERS in Cheshire could reap the benefits of their wildlife hobbies.

A survey released last week by the Government’s National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) revealed the health benefits of being close to nature and green spaces could be worth up to £300 per person each year.

NEA emphasises ‘ecosystem services’ - the hidden benefits supplied by the natural world,  above and beyond the socio-economic advantages of a growing economy.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust has welcomed the news after it has been campaigning for a wider approach to wildlife conservation through its Living Landscape scheme.

The trust is undertaking both community and practical conservation projects across an area of the Gowy & Mersey Washlands to restore, reconnect and recreate traditional wildlife habitats.

Charlotte Harris, director of conservation for the trust, said: “This report further strengthens our approach to ‘landscape scale’ conservation, and not simply protecting wildlife in isolated pockets.

“Our own network of 44 nature reserves provides people with opportunities to enjoy the health benefits of the outdoors for free, but it is also crucial that we continue to maintain our relationships with landowners and the farming community to ensure that wildlife is flourishing outside these areas, in turn joining up the wider wildlife jigsaw within our countryside.

 “A healthy river is not only good for otters and water voles, but also means our water supply is cleaner too - if riverside habitats are managed effectively, our ability to manage flood situations is also increased.”