If nature is protected people are protected

IF NATURE IS PROTECTED PEOPLE ARE PROTECTED

Rewilding Great Britain will help clean our air and water as well as preventing flooding. Having access to green spaces will keep people physically and mentally healthy.

THE PROBLEM

In addition to rising carbon emissions, the UK is facing an ever-accelerating ecological crisis, devastating both nature and people through biodiversity loss, climate change, water scarcity, and food security.

  • 41% of species have decreased in abundance.
  • 15% of species are threatened with extinction.
  • Soil degradation is estimated to be costing England and Wales £1.2 billion per year.
  • More than 40% of amphibian species, about 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.
  • 20% of the volume of water used in the UK every day is lost to leakage – a proportion which has not decreased within the past 20 years.
  • In 25 years, England will not have enough freshwater to meet demand.

THE SOLUTION

The UK must start rewilding on a nation-wide scale, attempting to restore a minimum of 25% of our natural landscape. This should include the following:

  • Restore peatlands and other land-based habitats, to regain their unique carbon-storing potential.
  • Regenerate forests as diverse, naturally regenerated forests can sequester several tonnes of CO2 per hectare from the atmosphere per year as well as delivering crucial ecosystem services.
  • Restore coastal areas damaged by overfishing and repeated trawling in offshore habitats to revitalise their carbon storage potential as well as repairing our natural coastal defences.
  • Reintroduce species such as lynxes and beavers can help create new carbon sinks, restore important food chains and drive ecological processes.
  • Encourage nature-friendly farming – legislation, investment and innovation should support farmers in moving away from high-input intensive farming methods and towards regenerative techniques and mixed crop systems.
  • Restore nature where humans already occupy land can increase wellbeing in nature, improve community cohesiveness and provide crucial ecosystem services.

THE OUTCOME

  • Improve our health and wellbeing: in 2013, the Woodland Trust estimated that if every household in England were provided with good access to quality green space, it could save an estimated £2.1 billion in healthcare costs.
  • Investing in nature could give our economy a much needed boost. The planting of 250,000 hectares of woodland near urban areas in the UK could deliver a net economic benefit of nearly £550 million. The restoration of ecological systems could also help cut the cost of ecosystem management. The natural environment also represent a potentially lucrative outdoor recreation industry, that could be boosted by investment in our natural spaces.
  • Prevent future flood damage: reports have suggested that flood damage caused by global warming could cost between 0.1 to 0.4% of GDP.

LEARN MORE: POLICIES IN ACTION

Chile

Chile has made huge leaps in natural conservation over the last few years. 21% of Chilean territory is currently under legal protection as part of the Chilean Patagonia National Parks Network, covering over 52 square miles. In 2017, the then-Chilean president signed a conservation expansion deal with US conservation philanthropist Kristine Tompkins, following which Tompkins donated over 1500 square miles of private land to the Chilean state. 5 national parks were later established by the Chilean state, covering over 16,000 square miles by 2018. In May 2019, the Chilean state, Tompkins Conservation, and the Pew Charitable Trust signed a joint agreement to establish a private-public fund dedicated to future conservation efforts in the Chilean Patagonia.

 

Singapore

Singapore has developed one of the world’s most sophisticated, efficient water management systems, despite a lack of natural aquifers and groundwater. They have implemented a successful water-saving strategy to reduce individual daily water consumption from 151 L in 2018 to 147 L by 2020 (current per capita household water consumption stands at 141 L), executed through media campaigns and public education. Other successful strategies involve sourcing water from sustainable alternatives such as rainwater recovery, water recycling, and desalination. Rainwater recovery supports a resilient infrastructure by reducing the risk of flood damage. Desalination plants account for up to 25% of water demand in 2018.