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New era for restoring the natural environment

[Tuesday 27 July 2010]

The White Paper on the Natural Environment provides a real opportunity to lay the foundations of nature conservation for the 21st century, according to The Wildlife Trusts.

The conservation organisation makes this statement ahead of a public consultation and sets out its recovery plans for the UK’s wildlife and fragmented habitats on land and at sea.

The Wildlife Trusts believe the time is now for the Government to establish a vision for the restoration of the natural environment which will help society achieve its ambitions for nature.

With scant existing legislation to encourage the restoration of the natural environment or the creation of new habitats on a significant scale, The Wildlife Trusts are looking for the Government to deliver real improvements.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“This White Paper is potentially as meaningful as the build-up to the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Back then we were reconstructing a nation and, although money was very short, nature was seen as a key part of our future.”

In the 1940s, The Wildlife Trusts’ founders successfully pressed for laws to protect some of the most special habitats on land but these were emergency measures. They were refuges from which it was always hoped nature would re-emerge. Outside the nature reserves on land habitats were lost on an unprecedented scale. Since then more than 95% of wildflower meadows have disappeared and 90% of heathland too.

Every Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas. Ahead of the recent election, The Wildlife Trusts lobbied for the new Government to introduce a White Paper on nature and ecological restoration so it reflected the needs now facing society by taking responsibility for this critical issue.

To ensure The Wildlife Trusts’ visions for A Living Landscape and Living Seas can be achieved in our lifetime, the conservation organisation sets out what it believes needs to be the fundamental framework for the White Paper for Nature.

Speaking about the potential for positive change, Stephanie Hilborne, added, said:

“The Wildlife Trusts believe the time is now for the Government to help society achieve its ambitions for nature by taking a look at the legislation, policies and funding mechanisms needed to restore wildlife on a landscape-scale and in our seas.

“Nature is not a luxury. With the UK facing unprecedented economic uncertainty and pressures for energy generation, food production and housing, there is a risk we overlook the very basis of our economy and our society; the natural environment upon which this all depends.”

Feedback received on this subject:

In these times of economic hardship it should if anything prove a more poignant time to acknowledge the rusticity of our existence. Financial cutbacks should make us all take a look at the unnecessary wastes we all make daily.

There also seems to be much costly tidying that occurs in the few small tracts of land in or towns and cities that is both a waste on finances and on the wildlife that depend on these niches in our urban landscape.

Railway embankments . . . verges on industrial estates weeds accumulating at the base of fences etc. All can be awash with colour and life one moment only to become withering patches of brown at the ill fate of the weed killers ruthlessly exacted upon any element of our lives that isn't deemed to be spick and span.

Chris Oakham

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