The Wildlife Trusts call for nature to be at the heart of economic recovery – not simply an ‘add on’

The Wildlife Trusts are deeply disappointed by the Government announcement to spend billions on roads at a time when serious investment in nature could address the twin emergencies of our age - climate change and nature loss - as well as provide jobs and improve people's lives.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech, Jo Smith, CEO of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, says:

“ This announcement seems depressingly the exact opposite of a Green Recovery. We need to ensure nature is at the heart of plans for economic recovery in Derbyshire and beyond, not an afterthought. The opportunity to invest in a greener future - creating jobs and a better environment for nature at the same time – is one that we cannot afford to miss. As a result of  lockdown there is a greater appreciation for wildlife, our world is greener and nature has benefitted from several months of reduced economic activity. This is a huge opportunity to invest in a better, brighter, greener future. Let’s not waste it.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, added:

“The Government has announced billions for road building projects and just £40 million for nature. This is hugely disappointing. Serious investment in nature could provide a green recovery which addresses the twin crises of our age – climate change and loss of the natural world – while simultaneously providing many more jobs. Instead, the Government have chosen to spend billions of pounds on roads which will take us in precisely the wrong direction and mean that we keep lurching from one crisis to another.  Serious investment in nature could provide a green recovery which addresses the twin crises of our age – climate change and loss of the natural world – while simultaneously providing many more jobs. It’s vital that we look to solutions that will help address nature loss and climate change, not make them worse. An economic recovery which puts investment in nature first would reap big dividends in tackling climate crisis – helping to absorb up to a third of UK emissions* – as well as tackling health inequalities, and providing more jobs, skills and opportunities to support the next generation.”

In his speech, the Prime Minister made specific reference to building fast and removing wildlife that presents an obstacle. The Wildlife Trusts are extremely concerned that this would jeopardise species such as dolphins, bats and newts and also the abundance of our wildlife that is already deeply depleted. The Habitats and Birds Regulations have been reviewed by DEFRA numerous times and in 2012 were declared fit for purpose.

Commenting on the creation of a new Conservation Rangers programme, Craig continues:

“As Britain’s largest conservation volunteering organisation, The Wildlife Trusts have close to 40 years’ experience of delivering employment and training programmes based around restoring nature. Programmes such as Our Bright Future are an effective route through which young people can gain the skills, confidence, and motivation to move into employment, whilst helping to restore green spaces and allowing nature to recover. The creation of a new Conservation Rangers programme can play a vital role in helping to provide the new capabilities needed to help the UK meet its 2050 net zero target and restore nature. But it must be supported by long-term funding for nature’s recovery and restoration projects on land and sea across UK. We know it costs around £7,500 to train a ranger for three months. Scale this up and you get some idea of the level of investment really needed to sustain these schemes.”

Today, The Wildlife Trusts are supporting over 10,000 people from across the UK in a ‘virtual’ mass lobby of Parliament, calling on their MPs to commit to a green recovery. More information here.