Why grow Nature?

Our beautiful natural environment is rich in distinctive habitats and wildlife – from towans to tors, marshland to moorland, heathland to hedges, and our iconic chough. In our towns and gardens and our stunning land and seascapes, nature is the foundation of our community, heritage and proud sense of place.

Nature seeds our prosperity through our farming, fisheries, tourism and mining sectors. It makes Cornwall a fantastic place to live and work. And its health is interlinked with our own. It provides a space for recreation that boosts our physical and mental wellbeing, and plays a vital role in securing clean air and water, food, our resilience to flooding, and a stable climate by storing and drawing down carbon.

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 it, 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.

Whilst nature is intrinsically valued by many, it is also provides many important ‘ecosystem services’ – vital for keeping us fed, healthy, prosperous and safe. Achieving environmental growth will mean we’ll secure these 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.

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.

But this crisis extends well beyond the climate emergency – meaning, unfortunately, that even if we succeed in fully decarbonising we’d still face catastrophic ecosystem collapse.

We’ve now broken 4 of 9 ‘planetary boundaries’, all of which are bound up with how we manage our land and seas. Globally, extinction rates are way in excess of the average of the last 10million years, and still accelerating – with a million species now at threat.

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.


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

Only around 20%

of our land is well-managed for nature in Cornwall

Only around 7%

of our inshore seabed is well-managed for nature in Cornwall.

Only around 25%

of our lakes and rivers are good for wildlife.

Nearly Half

of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places in Cornwall since the late 80s

Nearly Half

of breeding birds have declined in Cornwall since the late 80s

Three Fifths

of butterflies are found in fewer places in Cornwall since the late 80s


breeding birds have gone extinct since the 1970s in Cornwall.


vascular plants have gone extinct since the 1970s in Cornwall.


bumblebees have gone extinct since the 1970s in Cornwall.


decline in farmland bird species in Cornwall between 1994 and 2019


species of principal importance are now threatened with extinction.


of of hedgerow and Cornish hedge has been lost in Cornwall


seals were entangled with marine litter in 2019 in Cornwall


of rubbish was removed from local beaches in 2019.

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.

Find out more:

Local evidence

National & Global evidence