Investment in nature will support UK economy, says report
The Natural Capital Committee’s report suggests investment in nature will encourage economic growth in the UK.
Everybody should band together to protect the UK’s “natural capital” in an effort to support economic growth in Britain, according to the final report from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC).
The report shows that investment in nature will encourage growth in the UK’s economy and calls for the government to set up a 25 year plan to protect natural resources such as forests and the ocean.
The report suggests that there have been long-term declines of natural capital and foresees that the already high pressures will intensify in coming years. Despite this, the NCC suggests that all is not yet lost and that significant improvements are still possible if the UK organises investments in nature with the right long-term plan.
Natural capital deficits
The valuable goods of the UK’s natural capital have been in long-term decline for some time now. Residents of Britain have been witness to the gradual lessening of the natural environment’s ability to provide valuable essentials such as clean air, clean water, food and recreation.
It’s no surprise really, as much of the UK countryside is subject to intensive farming practices which vividly alter the natural landscape. Moreover, the rapid expansion of industry and the ensuing pollutionary problems have knock on effects for British wildlife as well as the landscape, which in turn impacts the whole ecosystem.
The trend has resulted in successive ‘natural capital deficits’ that has culminated in a large natural capital debt, which is proving “costly to our wellbeing and the economy”.
“If economic growth is to be sustained, natural capital has to be safeguarded,” said the report.
Be first to leave natural environment in better state
An overarching strategy is required in order for the government to meet the commitment to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than when it was given to them. To do this, the NCC’s report suggests the implementation of a number of actions, that will have to be facilitated by non-government bodies as well as the government itself.
It’s this banding together that will be key to saving the UK’s natural environment, which will require cooperation between the government, industries, businesses and society as a whole in order to restore some of the lost natural capital.
“The strategy needs to have three parts: building blocks; investment; and financing,” according to the report.
Benefits of the 25 year plan
Some of the key findings of the report are that the UK’s economy could stand to gain from this long-term plan. It draws on the fact that the cleaning up and restoration of the natural environment will cut costs in several sectors of the British economy, therefore boosting growth.
It seems that society as a whole has much to gain from such a plan, not only from enjoyment of the natural environment, but for health reasons too.
The report calculates that air pollution reduces productivity and causes thousands of premature deaths every year. Cleaning up the dirty air through the investment in urban green areas could lessen the burden on the overworked public health system, as well as improving physical and mental health for those living in cities.
Further costs could be saved if wetlands were reintroduced to the landscape, as they would reduce the risk of floods by soaking up the oversupply of water in flood-prone regions, and a number of other benefits could be derived from planting woods, restoring upland peat bogs, and allowing fish and shellfish populations to recover.
It’s a grand scheme that would require the whole country to act in harmony and work towards restoring the natural environment - the product of which will be enjoyed by many generation in the future.