Category Archives: Natural environment

A ‘can do’ attitude to environmental challenges must be part of Britain’s brighter future

natural england smallThis post is by Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency and Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England.

The prime minister was right to strike a note of optimism in his first speech to the country.

Environmental questions can seem relentlessly gloomy, with measures to cut pollution and recover the environment appearing like unaffordable sacrifices that get in the way of the real challenges. Read more

Tax breaks risk undermining new farm support policy

This post is by Miles King of People Need Nature.

tractor small

The current tax system operates against the sort of public benefit that the new agricultural policy established by Michael Gove is seeking to create. English landowners receive £2.4 billion a year in tax breaks for which there is little or no benefit to society. This amount of money is almost exactly the same as landowners receive in farm subsidies and it exposes a contradiction: although the system of providing payments to farmers is being fundamentally reformed, the tax breaks received will be untouched. Read more

Natural capital is the next horizon for green investors

fern smallThis post is by Guy Thompson, managing director of EnTrade, an online marketplace in ecosystem services. He was director of Green Alliance, 2004-06.

Last week, the FTSE re-labelled oil and gas as non-renewable energy and the National Trust renounced its fossil fuel shares, just as the government launched its Green Finance Strategy at the City’s third Green Finance Summit.  Whether this chain of events was serendipity or a rare masterstroke by Number 10 communications, the message to the financial sector is clear: the future is low carbon. Read more

Plans for new Rivers Authorities are flawed and threaten our environment

rivers smallThis post is by Tom Lancaster, acting head of land use policy at the RSPB.

The world of flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) is complex, and at times niche. But it is something that affects the lives of millions, and will become an increasingly pressing priority as the impacts of climate change get worse.

We all have a stake in the decisions to protect communities, businesses and nature from floods, whilst making the best use of the nation’s resources. They should be debated openly, both locally and nationally. Above all, managing flood risk should take place within a long term strategic framework, rigorously assessed to ensure maximum bang for our FCERM buck. Read more

The shackles need to come off our national parks to combat climate change

mam-tor-3600896_1920_Ian KelsallThis post is by Andrew McCloy, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Melanie Haiken recently outlined the dire implications of climate change on North America’s national parks if drastic action isn’t taken soon. US parks are warming at twice the national average and, without significant action, the outlook for their fragile ecosystems and varied biodiversity is bleak. Iconic parks like Sequoia, Glacier Bay and Joshua Tree could lose their namesake features altogether. Read more

We need to change our land use practices now to solve the environmental crisis

drought small.pngThis post is by Georgina Mace, professor of biodiversity and ecosystems at University College London.

The recent UN IPBES Global Assessment on biodiversity and ecosystems exposed the dramatic decline of nature. Seventy five per cent of the land surface has been significantly altered, and among assessed groups of mammals and birds, one in four species are at risk of extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 per cent and land degradation has reduced productivity in 23 per cent of the global terrestrial area.

This crisis not only threatens the diversity of life on Earth. Ongoing degradation and changes to ecosystems pose further risks to people through threats to food, energy and water security, as well as being a significant driver of climate change. Read more

Why aren’t farmers loudly (and proudly) demanding climate action?

Mulberry river smallWhile travelling with my dad from Little Rock to Springdale, Arkansas, we took the scenic route through the Ozark National Forest. My lungs, eyes and ears were refreshed by the clean air, bright blue skies and green trees, and the sounds of animals and insects. As someone who has lived in cities for the past seven years, I was reminded of the beauty of the natural environment.

To fully enjoy the scenery, we decided to stop at a local kayak business. With classic southern hospitality, the store owner insisted that he would keep the store open for an extra two hours for us to ride down the Mulberry River. As his colleague drove us up the mountain to our mini adventure, the typical small talk arose. Read more

How an award winning map is connecting more people with nature

foraging smallThis post is by Anita Roy, a member of Transition Town Wellington.

It might not look like much: a hand drawn map of a small town in Somerset, folded down small enough to fit in your pocket. The fields and woods are shaded green and dotted with little round stickers showing where to find apple trees and herbs, hazelnuts and redcurrant bushes.

There are two maps of Wellington you can pick up in the tourist office: one, showing shops and cafes, car parks and pubs: the town’s economy; the other, Transition Town Wellington’s foraging map: its ecology. On it are highlighted the four community orchards, the fruit bushes and herb beds, which have been created and tended for everyone to access, by this energetic and public-spirited environmental group. Read more

What would ‘Norway’ mean for nature laws?

RSPB smallThis post is by Donal McCarthy, senior policy officer at the RSPB.

On Monday night, MPs approved a motion providing parliament with the chance to hold a series of indicative votes on alternatives to the current Brexit deal. One of the alternative options that is being promoted by a cross-party grouping of MPs is a ‘Norway-style’ agreement (also known as ‘Norway Plus’ or ‘Common Market 2.0’).

This option would see the UK negotiate a future relationship with the EU similar to that enjoyed by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the three members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that participate in the EU single market under the terms of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. But what might this mean for the laws governing species and habitat protection across the UK? Read more

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