Today, the government launched its Natural Environment White Paper. This document is a vision for how we value and use nature, now and in the future. The public was
heavily involved in the White Paper’s creation. Thousands of suggestions came from individuals and small local naturalist groups, right up to large national NGOs and bodies like the National Trust.
This shows that concern for nature is alive and well in Britain. The paper was launched by Caroline Spelman; but, crucially, it received input from Greg Clark from Communities and Local Government
and Norman Baker from Transport. The Treasury have also been close partners.
The proposals seek to reconnect people with nature. This includes outside learning for school children so they can better understand how food gets from field to fork and to instil greater respect
for the environment in our towns and countryside. And the White Paper goes far beyond a mere statement of nature’s intrinsic value or the special place it has in our lives. It states the
vital role nature has in the sustainability of our economy. After years of decline, we want to see a net gain in the quality of our natural environment. The paper sets out how government will
incorporate the value of natural capital in our nation’s accounts. This means putting a value on all the resources nature gives us. For instance,we know that bees and other pollinators
provide us with around £450 million by pollinating flowers each year and we are starting to understand the value of what nature provides us in clean water, productive soils and so forth.
Businesses are way ahead of government in managing what nature has given us. It is time we caught up.
Richard Benyon MP is minister for the environment