The Government has recently published a white paper called “The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature”, a bold paper outlining a number of their goals and visions for the environment over the next fifty years. This is especially significant since it has been twenty years since the last Government White Paper. The main point made in this White Paper was that all of us play a role in maintaining our environment, and that we must all work together to ensure the goals are met. This White Paper indicates that the Government understands how important it is to maintain and support our local ecosystems.
The White Paper has a number of implications for citizens, businesses, local authorities, farmers and landowners, schools and environmental organisations. The general themes of the White Paper are improvement and protection of the natural environment, growth of a green economy, re-establishing the connection between people and nature, and leading from the front both in the EU and internationally.
Below is a summary of how the White Paper says that each of the different groups should contribute to the environment:
Citizens – We rely on our natural systems so we should therefore be more aware of them and look after them. Citizens should have access to local green spaces, and give back by shopping sustainably and using water more sustainably.
Businesses – Securing a growing green economy and better opportunities for businesses to provide green products and services. Moving to more sustainable resources and improving environmental standards throughout the supply chain. The government will work to create a country that will facilitate businesses becoming greener.
Local Authorities – To improve local communities and people’s health and well-being by providing green spaces to people in the community without further straining budgets. Local authorities will be given more rights to protect and maintain new green spaces. This will be supported by the government.
Farmers and Landowners – Over 70% of English land is farmed, but the Government understands that it is hard to increase food production whilst looking after the environment. Nature Improvement Areas and Local Nature Partnerships will encourage land managers to work with local authorities to protect the environment. The Government want to work in a close partnership with farmers and land owners and significantly reduce usage of peat in farming.
Schools – Teaching from a young age how important it is to understand the important of nature and “Ecosystem services” (our benefits from nature). Understanding how the ecosystem provides services, regulates services as the result of natural processes, and plays a cultural and supporting role in our lives.
Environmental Organisations – Working to encourage everyone to value and appreciate the environment and everything it provides. Conservation charities have huge support in the UK, with millions of members. The Government wants to work in partnership with conservationists and create National Improvement Areas. They will provide financial support to do this. They also want to do a number of other things to support the environment, including calling for a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to make it more environmentally friendly.