What Nature Does for Britain by Tony Juniper
– According to the ONS, nature is worth around £1.5 trillion per year to the UK economy (which is about the same as the national deficit)
– The estimated annual cost to the UK arising from soil degradation is between £900 million and £1.4 billion
– Under 10% of children regularly play in natural areas
– 60% of British wildlife species are in decline
‘Money is no object in this relief effort. Whatever money is needed, we will spend it.’ – Prime Minister David Cameron speaking to the media on 11 February 2014, the day the winter floods were declared a national emergency
Almost one year on from David Cameron’s now infamous pledge that ‘money’s no object’ in the flood relief effort, vast sums of money are still being wasted in areas ranging from flood defences to agriculture to health and water supply. The reason is because we often fail to appreciate the work being done by nature.
In What Nature Does for Britain, Tony Juniper reveals how nature sustains our health, wealth and security and illustrates how we do have the money to conserve and restore the natural systems we rely upon, if only it was spent in more rational and efficient ways. For example Juniper explains how we pay for our water three times. Once in tax-funded subsidies to farmers and landowners, a second time in our water bills (to remove chemicals coming from farms) and a third time in picking up the tab for repairing different kinds of environmental damage, including the effects of flooding – in part caused by eroded farmland soils clogging up river beds.
From the peat bogs and woodlands that help to secure our water supply, to the bees and soils that produce most of the food we eat, Britain is rich in ‘natural capital’. Yet we take supplies of clean water and secure food for granted, rarely considering the vital work nature does for Britain. In fact for years we have damaged the systems that sustain us under the illusion that we are keeping prices down, through intensive farming, drainage of bogs, clearing forests and turning rivers into canals. As Tony Juniper’s new analysis and powerful manifesto shows, however, the ways in which we meet our needs often doesn’t make economic sense.
Through vivid first-hand accounts and inspirational examples of how the damage is being repaired, Juniper takes readers on a journey to a different Britain from the one many assume we inhabit, not a country where nature is worthless or an impediment to progress, but the real Britain, the one where we are supported by nature, wildlife and natural systems at almost every turn.
Tony Juniper is an independent sustainability and environment adviser, including as Special Advisor with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and as a Fellow with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. He is a founder member of Robertsbridge, an advisory group working with international companies on strategies for more sustainable business. He speaks and writes on many aspects of sustainability and is the author of several books, including the bestselling What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? (also Profile Books), the award-winning Parrots of the World and How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take To Change A Planet? He was a co-author of the award-winning Harmony, with HRH The Prince of Wales and Ian Skelly.
He began his career as an ornithologist, working with Birdlife International. From 1990 he worked at Friends of the Earth and was the organisation’s executive director from 2003-8 and was the Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International from 2000-8.
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