Category Archives: Natural environment

Four important messages from the National Food Strategy about how we can ‘have it all’

Right now, the UK food system as a whole is bad for our health, bad for nature and the climate and, on top that, it is not even offering an economically sustainable livelihood for most farmers. The National Food Strategy, out today, sets out an integrated plan for how we can turn these problems around. Its insights on farming and land use are particularly exciting because they show how we can ‘have it all’: healthy food, as well as restored nature, carbon sinks and sustainable farm businesses.

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Southern Water and sewage: how do we stop big business just going through the motions?

One of the things that has cheered me in recent years has been the signs that big business has started to take environmental action seriously and show real leadership in addressing the environmental crisis. I like to think that this is not only because environmental destruction has become a material risk to their business model, but also because they are run by people, who like the rest of us, appreciate that we need a habitable planet to live on. This includes being able to swim, as I do, in the English Channel without getting ill.

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With or without a meat tax, a new vision for livestock farming is needed

Have you stopped eating meat for some meals or started a plant-based diet? If so, you are part of a growing trend. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of the forthcoming National Food Strategy included the suggestion that a meat tax might be needed in the future to help it along, to cut UK carbon emissions and improve people’s health. Meat taxes have been proposed before, and were rejected by the prime minister. But other developments are already driving changes in our diets. One way or another we will be eating less meat in future and a new vision for an economically and environmentally sustainable livestock sector is needed.

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We need the power to help our chalk streams recover

This post is by Charles Rangeley-Wilson, author, conservationist and chair of the CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Group.

In the post-war years, the immense bodies of filtered rainwater held within the chalk aquifers must have seemed like manna from heaven, providing easy, high quality water to a growing population and the south east’s burgeoning industry and agriculture. A very few far sighted commentators predicted the environmental damage that would result from over use of this resource, but not enough to turn the tide. Consequently, abstraction of chalk aquifers grew and grew towards a late 1980s peak when, in some catchments in drier years, we were taking more water out of the valleys than fell from the sky into them. Even when rainfall was good, unsustainable volumes of water were taken and our precious chalk streams dried up.

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What the data is already telling us about biodiversity net gain planning policy

This post is by Sophus zu Ermgassen of the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent.

Although the government has acknowledged the need for ambitious action to prevent loss of biodiversity, it is committed to the rapid expansion of potentially environmentally damaging infrastructure under Project Speed. This is central to its plan to level up and stimulate the post-coronavirus recovery. But can these two ambitions be reconciled? Is it possible to improve the UK’s nature whilst also expanding infrastructure’s footprint across the country?

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Protecting landscapes must be a collaboration of culture, heritage and nature interests

This post is by Alison Barnes FRSA FLI, CEO New Forest National Park Authority.

As we think about and shape the future of protected landscapes, the role they play in the big issues of our time has rightly come to the fore. They are increasingly viewed as ‘engine rooms’ for a greener future focused on recovery of climate, nature and people, and imagined as nodes for an extended network of connected landscapes that could run as green veins across cities and the countryside alike. 

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Why the chancellor’s response to the Dasgupta Review must create real action

This post is by Paul Morling, principal economist at the RSPB.

In commissioning the Dasgupta Review in 2019 the Treasury demonstrated a clear recognition that solving the nature crisis is vital for the functioning of our economy at large. To speak in economic terms, nature is a macroeconomic consideration and the review itself concludes that addressing the crisis is foundational to sustainable economic prosperity. In short, if we don’t tackle the nature crisis, our real economy and our quality of life is going to suffer.  

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How can we protect 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030 without proper monitoring?

This post is by Isobel Mercer, RSPB’s senior policy officer, policy & advocacy Scotland.

Our most important habitats for wildlife are found in Protected Areas. These special places, such as the carbon-rich peatlands of the Flow Country, the noisy seabird cliffs at Flamborough Head, the shores of Strangford Lough, which is home to some 70,000 wintering birds, and the ancient Celtic Rainforests of West Wales, are responsible for safeguarding nature across the UK.

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Net zero: an update from the environment, food and rural affairs committee

Green Alliance is tracking the UK’s net zero policy progress in key areas of government throughout this year. This week we are featuring a series of daily blogs in which we hear from the chairs of five parliamentary select committees, who answer our questions about the progress being made in their committee’s area of interest. This post is by Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

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