Wildwood Trust has welcomed the Government's 25-year plan to improve the natural environment which was launched yesterday. Much of the content has been a ringing endorsement of Wildwood Trust’s charitable objectives which we have campaigned on for the last 16 years, and shows how our charity has played a significant role in shaping wildlife policy.
► Find out more about the beaver at Wildwood here
Wildwood Trust’s Peter Smith has made this statement:
“While many issues have no firm backing, it has mentioned key areas of Wildwood’s charitable objectives on issue of land use & economic reform, wildlife education, reintroductions and rewilding and sustainable lifestyles and technologies. Wildwood Trust are especially happy with the go ahead for more beaver reintroductions which Wildwood Trust pioneered.
The government has stated it wants to “make it easier” for schools to take pupils on trips to natural spaces – such as Wildwood Trust’s award-winning education programme which has welcomed over 110,000 school children from Kent in the last 10 years.”
► Explore our education initiatives here
The plan is very welcome. It backs some important principles, such as not losing any more wildlife. It contains forward thinking ideas, such as the revolving land bank and a commitment to restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich landscape outside legally protected areas which is one of a handful of hard targets. Promotion of reform of agricultural subsidies is vital if more land is to be rewilded instead of paying landowners to destroy wildlife by producing uneconomic food.
The plan has its huge weakness; some of the targets are very distant and will be left to future governments and not address the dangerous loss of biodiversity today. We could end avoidable waste today and not in 2042.
The key problems of land use efficiency and perverse incentives to create waste and not use land efficiently are not addressed by changing tax breaks for landowners who abuse land and the wildlife on it.
Key issues regarding developing ‘ecosystem services’ such as natural flood protection, water quality and carbon loss and soil destruction have not been mentioned and, while the Government has given its backing to reintroducing species like beaver pioneered by the Wildwood Trust, more could have been said on the subject as well as cutting red tape in the process.
Most worrying is the lack of detail, explaining how these ambitions will be delivered in practice, with few real targets or policies explained in any detail. That’s why Wildwood Trust is calling for an Environment Act, to turn these ‘aspirations’ into a legal and enforceable reality. Such promises are being made to help the transition through BREXIT as one of the few really good opportunities our leaving the European Union offers and it is vital that these promises are not forgotten once article 50 is enacted and 70% of our existing environmental laws extinguished when we leave Europe.
Wildwood Trust is joining other environmental groups in calling for an ambitious new Environment Act, which would make the UK a leader in environmental protection. Without such legislation, these promises could be so easily forgotten and ruin the lives of our children and wildlife.
Yesterday’s announcement is a huge step forward and its plans for wildlife have been a huge endorsement of Wildwood Trust’s charitable objectives.