Bure Valley Living Landscape, photo by Mike Page

Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan

Friday 12 January, 2018

Theresa May’s speech on the environment this week shows that, at last, a Government is seeing how much the environment means to the people of the UK, not least young people. Both the speech and the plan contain some very encouraging words and ambitions for land and sea but The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations believe that the lack of legal underpinning is a fundamental flaw. It is vital that the Prime Minister fulfils her intention to ensure there is no weakening of environmental standards as we leave the EU’s world-leading environmental legal system.  
It is heartening to see that the Government is making a commitment to nature’s recovery and helping people to reconnect with it, something we have been calling for and doing here in Norfolk for a long time.
“Despite the efforts and successes of conservation organisations, wildlife continues to be in serious decline and so much wildlife habitat has been lost. More and more species are under threat. It is vital that we reconnect fragmented wildlife habitats and create more space for wildlife to survive. It is also vital that we raise awareness of the importance of wildlife and healthy ecosystems to our own physical and mental health and that we help people to reconnect with nature” said Brendan Joyce OBE, Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust. “It is now over seven years since the widely respected Lawton Report: Making Space for Nature was submitted to the Government and at last there are signs that some of its key recommendations will be acted upon.”
The 25 Year Environment Plan contains a number of welcome commitments including:
  • an ambition to restore nature in a generation
  • proposals to create a nature recovery network delivering 500,000 hectares of new habitat
  • a commitment to deliver a net gain in habitat coverage as a result of development
  • a better system for environmental land management
  • securing better protection for the marine environment
  • tackling plastic waste, which is having insidious impacts on our marine and freshwater environments
  • initiatives to connect people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes the Plan and sees in it an opportunity to do its bit to help implement the plan locally. We are already active in helping nature’s recovery through our Living Landscapes work: creating more space for wildlife and have made significant strides in places such as the Gaywood Valley near King’s Lynn and the Bure Valley in the Broads. We are active in helping people to reconnect with nature through our work with schools and in our engagement with local communities.
We are glad that the Government’s plan aligns with our own vision of a better future for wildlife and people. Given the resources, we can achieve a lot more for the benefit of Norfolk’s wildlife and people. However it is vital that the plan is backed up with real and long term commitment and investment as well as strong environmental legislation if it is to achieve Theresa May’s ambition of “leaving our environment in a better state than we found it”. And we need that to start immediately.
“We all depend on a high quality natural environment and in the long run, what is good for wildlife is also good for us,” said Mr Joyce. “Restoring degraded wildlife habitats, recreating wild spaces where they have been lost or destroyed and linking together natural areas clearly helps nature. But it is also good for people. More green space close to where we live and work promotes health and happiness.”
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