NBN Trust Patron heads letter to Boris Johnson

Sir John Lawton, NBN Trust Patron, has called for £1 billion to Make Space for Nature 10 years on from the ground-breaking report.

On 16 September, the 10th anniversary of their influential Making Space for Nature report, an eminent panel of nature conservation experts, academics and land managers led by Professor Sir John Lawton has written to the Prime Minister calling for immediate action to reverse wildlife declines by committing an additional £1 billion to rebuild nature in England.

In their letter, the panel acknowledges that the original Making Space for Nature report, published in 2010, has influenced important government policies, including the 25 Year Environment Plan, which promises the establishment of a Nature Recovery Network. However, they argue that most of the 24 recommendations made in their original report have yet to be enacted, despite being welcomed by government at the time.

The Making Space for Nature panel calls for three urgent actions that would be the focus of £1 billion investment:

1. Better protect and restore our remaining wildlife habitats. Even our most protected habitats, our Sites of Special Scientific Interest, are largely in poor condition.
2. Deliver ecological restoration at scale, notably by establishing 25 large Nature Recovery Areas to form the core of the new Nature Recovery Network.
3. Bring nature to people, by making significant wildlife habitat enhancements in and around our towns and cities.

The letter highlights the role that Nature Based Solutions – such as natural flood defences and planting trees – can play in addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, and argues that restoring habitats is as important for people as it is for wildlife. Covid-19 has taught us how important access to nature is to people’s health and well-being.

The panel argues that we are running out of time if we are to meet the Government’s commitment to be the first generation to leave behind a richer environment than we inherited. They say that the case for a £1 billion investment now is compelling to rapidly rebuild England’s natural infrastructure.

Sir John Lawton, who chaired the Making Space for Nature panel, said: “A healthy environment rich in nature is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for our health and prosperity. The habitats that wildlife need to thrive are also what people need for clean air, for flood defence, for natural places to visit that bring inspiration and joy. After a decade of thinking and planning, the time for dithering is over, we now need a decade of action.”

Making Space for Nature panel member Dame Georgina Mace, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London said: “This week, the Global Biodiversity Outlook has highlighted worrying declines of wildlife across the World. These declines are happening here too: the UK is one of the most nature depleted nations in the World with nearly half of all species in decline, but it’s not too late to restore abundant wildlife within a generation if we act now.”

Making Space for Nature panel member Sir Graham Wynne, former member of the UK Climate Change Adaptation Sub-Committee and Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales, said: “In a country that can commit to over £100 billion on HS2 and £20 billion on Crossrail, an additional £1 billion to urgently rebuild our natural infrastructure is surely not too much to ask. Young people have been demanding we wake up to the joint crises of ecological loss and climate change – it’s time we listened”

Read the letter which has been sent to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

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