Natural Capital Funding to support our environment and biodiversity
George Eustice, the environmental minister has confirmed a new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment aimed at protecting the national environment as part of a larger package of Environmental Bill measures. The new plan valued at £5 million may be supported by additional funding plans via the UK’s Environment Bill which is focused on leaving the environment in a better condition than when we found it.
Funding for the natural capital assessments is focused on improving the data collection process for details on how natural and biodiversity are used in the UK. The plans will be supported by an additional £4 million two year pilot project aimed at improving biodiversity in four specific urban and rural areas that have been impacted significantly by the pandemic.
Eustice also explained that the Government was initiating a new strategy on environmental legislation once the Transition Period comes to an end at the end of this year. This will include delivering new long term targets on natural capital metrics. In just a few months, the UK will be capable of creating a new course. Eustice highlights that it is a critical time for policymakers to determine their approach towards the environment. Eustice explained that in order to tackle environmental challenges requires a coordinated long term approach and clear commitment from the government. Eustice confirmed that they are due to publish a report that will provide details on their approach to creating long term targets directly associated with biodiversity, waste, water and air quality for the new environmental bill.
Nearly 80% of the environmental laws for UK have been created in collaboration with other nations in Europe, many of which have passed through strict processes by the European Commission. Members of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) have warned that implement the Bill could result in vital national environmental policies being downgraded from those that are currently mandated within the EU. A range of leading environmental organisations including Greenpeace and ClientEarth have raised their concerns.
Eustice highlighted that the COP26 climate conference due to commence next year would be used to secure further action on climate change and biodiversity loss worldwide and would include an emphasis on the importance of nature-based solutions.
Many industry experts have indicated that creating a healthy natural environment is critical to the wellbeing of both our economy and our society. The news from the Environment Secretary and a clear commitment towards improving the state of the environment is a positive move.
As a consequence of the news, a series of measures will effectively take place. Any changes to environmental impact assessments will require a structured planning system based on clear scientific evidence and have a strong focus on generating environmental improvements. Nature restoration projects, including wetland and peatland projects will need to be included in public stimulus investments. Significant progress will also be required to complete the Environmental and Agriculture Bills and to create a system of bold targets, all of which is vital in supporting private investment towards environmental improvement projects for the future.
On the same day of this announcement, the UK Government confirmed a new funding package to support sustainable farming methods and replanting projects in the Amazon. The new projects will focus on teaching farmers techniques such as rotational grazing and pasture reform. The Government hopes the additional funding will regenerate approximately 900 hectare of rainforest in Brazil alone.
The Minister for Climate Change Lord Callanan stated that both climate change and deforestation are both challenges that extend well beyond our own borders and shows that we need to take decisive action to protect our biodiversity worldwide. The new announcement brings the total funding from the UK towards tackling deforestation in Latin America to £80 million.