Why Grow Nature?
Nature is at the core of our local identity & heritage, and we are globally renowned for our iconic landscapes and seascapes. It is also foundational to our health, wellbeing and prosperity. But it is not as healthy as it seems, and its dramatic decline is accelerating due to climate change.
Environmental growth is about not just protecting but also enhancing nature – ensuring that there is more of it, and that it is bigger, better, more diverse and more joined up. This means:
- Protecting and restoring existing areas for nature.
- Making more space for nature.
- Joining up nature-rich sites.
- Restoring dynamic natural processes.
- Reducing pressures on nature, and making habitats more resilient.
- Integrating and living with nature
- Supporting nature based solutions for social, economic or environmental challenges.
Achieving environmental growth will mean we’ll secure nature’s ‘ecosystem services’, which ground our health and prosperity.
- Nature-based solutions to reduce our emissions and tackle climate change.
- An abundance and diversity of wildlife and green spaces for healthier ecosystems. Protecting rare and threatened species and habitats.
- Natural regulation is restored so that climate, hazards, disease and pests remain within safe limits.
- Food webs are rebuilt so that people, plants and animals thrive.
- Natural cycles are repaired to improve air, water and soil quality.
- UK natural capital has an estimated value of £921bn to the economy
- Natural goods and services are foundational to local industry.
- Greater productivity through a healthier, happier workforce and greater resource efficiency
- A more stable economy, with better conditions to attract and retain investment
- An attractive place to work and do business
- Enhancement of local character & distinctiveness
- Increased business resilience through reduced risk of environmental hazards
- More sustainable businesses with reduced operating cost
- Resilient communities buffered from weather extremes through nature-based solutions that reduce flood risks.
- Happier communities with improved and more inclusive physical health, mental wellbeing and safety outcomes
- A healthier place to live with clean air and water, and reduced risk of disease
- Replenished resources for food fuel and medicines, for improved food and fuel security.
- Greater connection to our natural and historic environment
- A strengthened sense of place
- An attractive place to live, work and raise a family
- A better quality of life
However, nature is highly fragile and not as healthy as it might seem. Although fundamental to our life, health and prosperity, it is being destroyed at an historically unprecedented rate. It has degraded dramatically over the last 50 years, and that is accelerating due to climate change as it threatens habitat resilience.
Globally, our ‘Ecological Footprint’ exceeds nature’s capacity to regenerate so much that we now exceed earth’s ‘biocapacity’ by at least 56%. This threatens to reverse the advances in human wellbeing over the past century, with our global stock of ‘natural capital’ (natural goods and services) declining 40% in the last 30 years alone.
Globally, four out of nine of the planetary boundaries within which humanity can safely operate have now been crossed as a result.
decline in UK species since 1970
average decline in abundance for indicator species in the UK since 1970
of species are threatened with extinction in the UK, of 8,431 assessed
species have gone extinct in the UK since 1950
international targets for halting biodiversity loss were met in 2020
UK biodiversity indicators are showing long-term declines, including the decline of priority species
of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places in Cornwall since the late 80s
of breeding birds have declined in Cornwall since the late 80s
of butterflies are found in fewer places in Cornwall since the late 80s
decline in farmland bird species in Cornwall between 1994 and 2019
of of hedgerow and Cornish hedge has been lost in Cornwall
seals were entangled with marine litter in 2019 in Cornwall
But by moving beyond business as usual and mere conservation, we can bend the curve on species loss and habitat degradation. Environmental growth with more sustainable production and consumption can reverse the trend of ecological decline.