Category Archives: Natural environment

Done right, new natural capital markets offer big opportunities for businesses and farmers

There are big changes afoot for agriculture and land use in the UK. Imperatives to halt climate breakdown and the decline of nature have led to a growing number of government targets requiring more action in the coming years. These targets cover a spectrum, including a legally binding aim for a net zero carbon economy and the mission to end nature decline by 2030, as well as commitments to protect 30 per cent of land for nature and reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent, also by 2030.

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Farming reform is a big post-Brexit prize we should be careful not to lose

The government’s plans for farming in England have taken a kicking. In October, the NFU opposed reductions to the Basic Payments Scheme, and called for delay to the roll out of the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM). But many environmentalists see the first tranche of this new scheme, the new Sustainable Farming Incentive announced in December, as basic payments reheated. It was condemned by the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts for ignoring “the important links between farming, climate and nature”.

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Why the government’s recent farming policy announcement got it wrong and what needs to happen next

This is a joint post by Marcus Gilleard of the National Trust, Barnaby Coupe of The Wildlife Trusts, and Alice Groom of the RSPB.

When the government made its eagerly awaited announcement about farming at the beginning of December there was a howl of disbelief from us, the UK’s three major nature charities. But why was it such a disappointment to us?

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A legal target to restore England’s protected sites could be transformative for nature

This post is by Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS, chair of the Making space for nature panel.

“There are twenty-seven ancient cathedrals in England. Imagine the outrage that would have ensued in this country if over the last 100 years, twelve had been partly demolished, nine substantially demolished, and three completely obliterated; only three would remain in good condition. Yet this is precisely what has happened to many of England’s finest wildlife sites.”

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What should river health campaigners focus on next?

This post is by Daniel Johns, head of public affairs at Anglian Water.

I want to congratulate Philip Dunne MP and the Duke of Wellington, and all their supporters in parliament and far beyond, for making headline news of poor river health, and for securing significant changes to the Environment Act during the final stages before it passed into law. But the truth is that hard fought compromises from the government will bring few, if any, rivers back to good health, because storm overflows are often the final, albeit most visible, straw in our struggling river systems.

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A new plan for the Lake District is aiming to reverse nature loss

This post is by Blanaid Denman, RSPB senior conservation officer, north.

We already know what we need to do for nature. Eleven years ago, the Lawton Report stressed the urgent need to create more, bigger, better, and more interconnected habitats. The more recent 25 year environment plan set clear targets for restoring protected sites, expanding habitats, increasing woodland cover, tackling pollution and invasive species.

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Why we should eat wilder meat

This post is by Miles King at People Need Nature.

Meat is on the agenda at the Glasgow climate conference. Meat and its climate impact is now at the forefront of public debate about how we can all do our bit to stop climate chaos. Naturally, everybody is claiming that their answer is the right one. The sheep lobby is putting up a stout defence for lamb, claiming it is a climate-friendly food. The beef and dairy industries are doing the same, in the teeth of claims from the vegetarian and vegan lobbies that meat is climate enemy number one. 

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Defra’s plans to support farmers could be good but we just don’t know enough to say

This post is by Jenna Hegarty, deputy director of policy at the RSPB.

Sir Dieter Helm recently said “Never have we needed nature-friendly farming as much as we do now”. With a decade to act on climate and nature, to avoid irreversible breakdowns, we don’t just need a farming system that minimises its environmental impact, it also needs to be net positive for nature.

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The Judicial Review and Courts Bill threatens to deter challenges to unlawful environmental decisions

This post is by Carol Day, legal consultant to the RSPB and public interest law firm Leigh Day and Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth.

On Monday, the Judicial Review and Courts Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. Coincidentally, Monday is also when the seventh Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention opens. This UN convention, to which the UK is party, seeks to ensure that civil society has rights pivotal to the effective functioning of democracy, including access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters.

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Food insecurity and the climate crisis are grounds to reframe thinking around land in the UK

This post is by the journalist and author Peter Hetherington.

We are reaching a pivotal moment, a crunch time for food security in a UK which produces barely 60 per cent of the crops it needs. An acute shortage of both HGV drivers, and people prepared to pick veg and fruit (EU nationals now largely denied access to Brexit Britain) has, once again, exposed the fragility of just in time delivery to supermarkets.  It’s a system developed for car assembly plants but ill-suited to the vagaries of food distribution across long distances.

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