LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) welcomed the publication yesterday (June 7) of the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP). “The first on the natural environment for over 20 years, it places the value of nature at the centre of the choices our nation must take”, stated the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, “to enhance our environment, economic growth and personal wellbeing.”
Speaking after the launch, Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive congratulated the government on drawing together the many and varied comments from over 1500 submissions to the consultation into one document, addressing one common aim – mainstreaming the value of nature across our society.
These sentiments fit well with LEAF’s core objectives of linking the environment and farming, with a focus on nature’s net gain – be that economic, environmental or social.
In particular, one of the strong recommendations in the report is the strengthening of the connections between people and nature for the benefit of both. LEAF is particularly pleased that all the efforts of farmers and industry partners, working together for Open Farm Sunday, have been recognized. As a key event on the farming calendar, this day really does provide a hands on approach for the public to see nature up close and understand more the story behind their food. Furthermore, the Let Nature Feed Your Senses project run by LEAF and the Sensory Trust, provides people with poor access to the countryside, such as elderly people or children with physical or mental disabilities, with opportunities to visit farms to experience nature and its links with their food.
LEAF welcomes measures such as the introduction of Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), which will see conservation taking place on a joined-up landscape scale. We have been working closely with GWCT and FWAG to build on the great conservation work many farmers are putting into place on their farms and finding new ways to extend this across a landscape scale.
LEAF is also particularly interested in the creation of a green economy – we feel strongly that this should be central to all the economy. However, truly valuing the environmental and social goods delivered by farmers, and then integrating them into the market, is a huge challenge. We are therefore encouraged that the recent work on the National Ecosystem Assessment has provided a more informed baseline on which to work from.
LEAF works on a global scale. We recognize the importance of ensuring that we share, inspire and learn from others across the world. The Natural Choice sets out the global ambitions of the government to achieve environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth; we welcome the opportunity to work with government on implanting the significant ambitions of the Nagoya agreement, through the LEAF Marque and the DFID FRICH project we are running with Waitrose and Green Shoots.
The Natural Choice report makes some strong and important recommendations. Over the last 18 months we have seen the launches of some very significant reports:
- The Lawton report – Making Space for Nature
- The Foresight report – Reaping the Benefits
- The National Ecosystem Assessment
- The MacDonald Farming Regulation Task Force, Striking a Balance
The real challenge now is knitting all the recommendations, findings, ideas and initiatives together in order to deliver real change on the ground.
LEAF has been committed to delivering a more sustainable food system for over 20 years, as well as creating new connections between farmers, consumers and the countryside. We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with others to provide a better environment for all.