Rewilding Britain is a term that has been bandied about the quieter, more rural corridors of Westminster and it’s not the only talking point, a recent report, ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ coincides with Brexit, creating an opportunity for change in agricultural subsidies too. However, in the current climate of the ‘on-demand’ economy, I can’t quite work out if the 25 Year Plan guarantees forgetfulness or allows for seasonal development.
In what can only be described as the most important direction for the UK in recent times, the report includes swing-voting winners such as sustainable fishing, soil health and Clean Growth — a significant step for both industry and the environment. Although, you may be surprised at how much progress we’re already making,
- Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 42%.
- Household recycling levels have almost quadrupled since the turn of the century.
- Over 95% of our terrestrial and freshwater protected sites in England are now in good condition, or have management in place to ensure that they are recovered.
Goals of the 25 Year Plan also include clean air, water and ‘a reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding and drought.’ As an island nation, we aren’t use to hazards beyond a bit of rainfall and that’s why we notice it more as a result. It’s a neat trick the weather’s been teasing us with since I first accepted drizzle and our overcast outlook. For cleaner air, drastic changes need to begin such as the ending of sales for ‘new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040,’ a timeline more generous than your next Toyota Prius. Plastic also has a constructive target, ‘eliminating avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042,’ putting my mind at rest over that new iPhone.
In order to deliver these new targets, Swampy has been replaced by Helen Meech, Director of Rewilding Britain, who represents a new breed of ecological fungi growing organically within the political establishment. Helen has always been at one with nature, admitting an ‘early love of frog spawn’, something I’m sure Michelin-star chefs will approve, “while most of the people at school were experimenting with booze or each other, I was experimenting with frogspawn…One summer, I tried to see what would happen if you fed tadpoles different types of food. Tadpoles, it turns out, don’t like wafer thin ham.”
Neither do I. Despite this whimsical story, the UK Government has promised an extra £15 million to fund rewilding projects to reduce flood risk. Alongside allowing nature to take her course, there are also templates and tips available online to speed up any evacuation with a campaign that warns, “posing for ‘storm selfies’ could put your life in danger.”
As we move beyond the coal mines and looms of the 20th Century, one fact remains certain — pollution from digital growth has accelerated. Data centres have mushroomed from virtually nothing 10 years ago to consuming nearly 3 percent of the global electricity supply, with many claiming the airline industry has a smaller carbon footprint.
Your future could not be more obvious and our choices never more important; whether it’s a 25 Year Plan, rewilding farmland or regulating data-use; the more we progress, the less you can question — the environment becomes our only priority.
About the author
Alistair Read has written across a range of issues for publishers and has been nominated for awards, including the launch of BBC WorldWide’s ‘BBC Earth Magazine’ that supported the Planet Earth TV series.
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