29 June 2020
Investment in nature recovery could provide a major boost in employment in England and help create a more resilient economy as part of a green economic recovery from Covid-19 according to new figures put together by conservation groups. In addition, it would also help Government and society tackle the nature and climate crises.
A list of 330 projects that are ‘ready to go’ - including a mix of well-tested and innovative approaches, from micro forests to huge coastal realignment schemes - has been put together by Wildlife and Countryside Link to showcase the scale of opportunities available for England through a green recovery. In the short term, these projects could support around 5,000 jobs in the environment sector and 5,000 jobs in delivery, plus supply chain benefits.
Additionally, if the government delivers on its ambition in the 25-year plan for the environment of half a million hectares of restored habitat, this could mean a further 15,000 jobs in other similar projects. The scalability of many of the projects mean that they can be replicated in multiple locations to fit local needs.
Richard Benwell, Chief Executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link said, “Investing in nature can provide a short-term boost with thousands of jobs, and it can provide long-term, cost-effective protection against costly risks like flooding, soil degradation, and climate change. Helping the poorest, most nature-deprived communities first can help improve people’s way of life at the same time as helping wildlife. This is the Chancellor’s chance to grow back better by including funding for these projects in July’s budget announcement.”
Not only would these projects deliver much needed jobs in a post-Covid world, they would also provide a significant boost towards Government nature and climate targets by -
The 330 projects that span the length and breadth of England would be a good investment for treasury spending. Some of the projects have already been able to provide clear indications of benefits. With a one-off cost of £34m, 23 of these projects are already estimated to have produce at least £160m in environmental and public benefits including flooding protection, carbon storage and improved health.
Examples of projects that are ready to go:
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation said, “How and where our governments choose to invest will shape the kind of world that we build out of this crisis. If we make the right choices the benefits are clear: reduced exposure to the risks of environmental breakdown; economies and communities which are resilient to shock; a healthy, thriving population; and natural assets that can sustain us long into the future.”
Ian Dunn, CEO, Plantlife, said: “A staggering 97% of British wildflower meadows have been eradicated in less than a century and species-rich grassland now covers less than 1% of the UK. This devastation of meadows, and loss of wild flowers like wild strawberry, ragged robin and harebell, is driving disastrous declines in our bee and butterfly populations. The remaining isolated fragments of meadows that have survived the bulldozer or the plough are home to an unprecedented richness of plant species that have evolved over millennia and they must be better protected under law. But protection of existing meadows alone is not enough and we must make creating and restoring meadows, and the myriad of benefits they bring including carbon storage, flood prevention, and water purification, a central plank of the green recovery. To build back better for nature while stimulating a boom in skilled jobs in the rural economy we simply cannot overlook the vitality of creating new and healthy grassland habitats, home to a fifth of all priority species for conservation action.”
Notes to editors:
1. Wildlife and Countryside Link is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 57 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. Our members campaign to conserve, enhance and access our landscapes, animals, plants, habitats, rivers and seas. Together we have the support of over eight million people in the UK and directly protect over 750,000 hectares of land and 800 miles of coastline.
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