Our ideas for a green recovery
As the Government makes plans to repair the country from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we're calling for a recovery that ensures everyone can enjoy nature.
We want changes that respect and learn from our past, allow us to enjoy the present in nature and culture, and secure our future with action on climate and the environment.
Long-term recovery cannot be about short-term economic growth alone. We need a recovery that delivers for society and the environment, enhancing the health and wellbeing of people, communities and the UK as a whole.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not impacted everyone equally, and those living without access to nature or culture were particularly affected by lockdown restrictions. Our recovery legacy should ensure everyone can enjoy nature-rich green spaces on their doorstep and access local heritage and the shared cultural spaces that help bring communities together.
Latest news: Funding windfall for trees, woodland and wildlife
Ancient trees, woodlands and wildlife havens in our care will be further restored thanks to money from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
The National Trust and the Woodland Trust have been awarded £3.8m to carry out vital work to restore 60 woodland areas covering 638 hectares and care for several ancient and veteran trees.
The work, led by the Woodland Trust, will not only help tackle the climate and nature emergencies but also boost the economy by creating and saving jobs in the forestry sector. The 15-month project starting in January 2021 will take place across England but will focus on high-need areas in Devon, the East of England, Cumbria, Sherwood and Nottinghamshire.
Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: 'Ancient woods and trees are invaluable for nature conservation and restoration offering a range of nature-based solutions, as carbon sinks, and they deepen people’s connection with nature.'
Hilary McGrady, Director-General at the National Trust, said: 'Ancient trees are gentle giants that have brought so much beauty to our landscapes over hundreds of years. They are also enormously important for storing carbon.
'Although they have shown resilience to lots of mini climatic events over their long lives, we urgently need to protect and care for them as climate impacts become more extreme.'
We will also be receiving £3.85m for a project to enhance nature and start to combat the effects of climate change in five of the most significant historic landscapes in our care. This will involve tree planting and flood management work at the Killerton Estate in Devon, Coleshill Estate in Oxfordshire, Wimpole in Cambridgeshire, Wallington in Northumberland and Dunham Massey in Cheshire. See below for more information on how the money will be used to support nature at these places.
As the Government considers funding packages to support economic recovery and the Environment Bill continues its progress through Parliament, there are opportunities to ensure a green recovery reaches everyone.
How could Government policy help?
Ambitious legislation for nature
Restoring nature must be at the core of efforts to tackle climate change, grow resilience and support people’s health and wellbeing. The UK Government’s ambition as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan is good, but the task of building the regulatory and legislative frameworks to support it is incomplete.
Through the proposed Environment Bill, Government must put in place a world leading system of environmental protection and ambitious targets for the restoration of nature. These need to be enforced by a strong, independent regulator, and based on accessible environmental law and principles. We also need a land use and farming system that delivers for nature and the climate.
Investing in green spaces
Lockdown has reminded us how important nature and green space is to people - and how unequal access to it is. Recent urban green space research we undertook with the Mayor of the West Midlands, Sustrans, Create Streets and local council leaders shows a £5.5 billion investment in green infrastructure could unlock huge economic benefits and tackle inequality of access to nature and green space.
Making green recovery a priority for everyone
While energy and transport are pivotal for the UK's net zero ambition, recovery measures should encourage other sectors such as farming, culture, heritage, tourism and construction to deliver greater public benefit, contribute to reducing emissions and increase long term sustainability as part of recovering their financial security.
Making best use of our heritage
We should be seeking to make the most of our heritage, both as a fundamental element of our built environment, and a key contributor to the UK’s tourism sector. Making the best possible use of our historic buildings can retain embodied carbon and reduce emissions, support regeneration of towns, cities and high streets, generate tourism and local economic activity, and offer spaces for shared cultural experience.
Responding to local need
Enabling local decision making and an ability to respond to varying local needs will be key. Any changes to the planning system should contribute to enhancing quality and distinctiveness of place, and not weaken important protection for nature and heritage.
How we're playing our part
We're responding to the parliamentary inquiries on green recovery from Covid-19 and will continue to encourage Government to deliver a recovery that benefits everyone.