Category Archives: Natural environment

It’s time to link food, nature and climate policy

This post is by Jessica Sinclair-Taylor, head of policy and media at Feedback.

A recent letter, organised by Nourish Scotland and signed by a number of organisations (including Feedback) and city governments, has asked COP26 President Alok Sharma to clear some space for food system debates on the agenda at the Glasgow climate summit this year. As the letter points out, the intimate links between nature, cutting and storing carbon, and food production, are not receiving the attention they deserve.

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Government impoverishment of the environmental principles should worry us all

This post is by Professor Maria Lee, co-director of the Centre for Law and the Environment at UCL.

Defra’s Draft environmental principles policy statement has finally been published for consultation. This statement is a crucial part of the move from EU law and policy, to the domestic regime set out for England by the Environment Bill. This move  involves shifting from a system in which the environmental principles were systemic and legally binding, to one in which they will be creatures of government policy not law, considered only in ministerial policy making rather than across the board, and subject to deep carve outs.

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Why a green recovery needs a blue recovery at its heart

This post is by Tom Fewins, head of policy & advocacy at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Here’s a question for you: what does ‘Ramsar’ stand for?

While some may see it as shorthand for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, it is actually named after a place. The Iranian city of Ramsar sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where this multilateral agreement was first signed; this year the Ramsar Convention marks its 50th anniversary.

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Where is the England Peat Strategy?

This post is by Jenny Hawley, policy manager at Plantlife, Paul De Zylva, senior nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, Ali Morse, water policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts and Chris Corrigan, policy coordinator at Butterfly Conservation. This article was originally posted on the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s blog.

Patience is a virtue. Carbon has been accumulating in the UK’s peatlands for at least 10,000 years. It now equates to just around 30 years’ worth of the UK’s annual emissions. But many peatlands now serve the opposite function: due to continuing damage and degradation they are pumping this carbon back into the atmosphere.

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It is time to seal the marriage between carbon finance and forest protection

This post is by Matthew Spencer, global director of landscapes at IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

All carbon pollution is equal: this is a founding assumption of the UN Climate Convention, because the atmospheric effect of a tonne of carbon dioxide emitted from a smoking tropical tree in Mato Grosso is no different from a tonne billowing from a coal power station in Missouri.

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The government has chosen to seriously harm nature by letting farmers use neonics again

This post is by Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife. It is an extract of a longer piece published by Buglife.

Last Friday, just when journalists were clocking off and the Saturday papers were being compiled for print, Defra announced it would allow farmers to once again use environmentally destructive neonicotinoid seed treatments on sugar beet.  This small administrative decision has huge environmental repercussions. It is seen by the public as a bellwether environmental issue, and also highlights profound inadequacies in pesticide decision making.  No wonder the announcement was made at the most muffled moment in the government’s weekly media diary.

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Instead of calling gene editing good or bad, let’s talk about what it might be used for

This post is by Jonny Hazell, senior policy adviser at the Royal Society, writing in a personal capacity

So much commentary on the public debate around agricultural genetic technologies begins with the assertion “we need to talk about gene editing” [1]. Why? Did we talk about other plant breeding technologies, like x-ray mutagenesis or marker assisted selection? Should we have done? Unless there’s something inherently harmful about a technology, ie you cannot use it without creating something that poses a risk to human or environmental health, then surely the important thing to discuss is the problem the technology is being used to address and the consequences of the proposed solution.

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Our health depends on nature but this year showed that access to green spaces isn’t equal

This post is by Dr Rose O’Neill, principal specialist for people and environment at Natural England.

For all its ups and considerable downs, 2020 was a year when the nation sought solace in nature.

Since April, Natural England has been asking people in England about their relationship with nature. Each week we ask hundreds of adults from all walks of life about how they have spent time in green and natural places, how this has affected their health, and their environmental attitudes and behaviours.

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What does recent damage to the River Lugg tell us about the state of environmental law enforcement?

This post is by Matt Williams, trustee of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.

In 2019, I led a small group of young people and their parents on a guided nature walk around Lugg Meadows. We heard a kingfisher, talked about how otters might be present in the river and watched a red kite circling nearby. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), this section of the River Lugg is protected for its importance for biodiversity.

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