Chief Executive, Marian Spain outlines Natural England’s new vision and mission.
Biodiversity loss and climate change are two of the greatest challenges facing our world. At the same time the evidence of the benefits of a healthy natural environment to our wellbeing is now irrefutable. Thriving nature is a “win-win-win”, with nature-based solutions contributing to the UK’s net zero goal, restoring wildlife and landscapes and giving everybody access to a healthier environment.
That’s why Natural England has recently decided to focus on restoring nature, as summed up in our new vision and mission that will frame our work over the coming years.
Our vision is of “thriving nature for people and planet”. Our ambition is not just to improve nature, but to see it thriving everywhere, because a healthy natural environment is fundamental to everyone’s health, wealth and happiness.
For us (and as defined in the legislation that founded Natural England), nature encompasses not only natural beauty, wildlife and the geology that underpins landscape character and the habitats on which our most precious species depend but also our historic and cultural connections with nature , for example through art and literature, and the opportunities we have to connect with the environment. Our understanding of nature covers the whole natural world on earth and at sea, and encompasses the natural environment in our towns and cities as well as the countryside.
Our focus on people reflects the health and well-being benefits of contact with nature and also the opportunities for people to get involved in caring for their environment. By “planet”, we mean the need for resilient ecosystems contribute to sustainability in the UK and across the globe and to use nature based solutions as a major part of the answer to achieving net zero.
Our mission now is therefore all about “building partnerships for nature’s recovery”. If we are to achieve the scale and pace of recovery needed, and envisaged in the 25 Year Environment Plan, we need to work with and through a wide range of people – businesses, landowners, community groups and NGOs – to take rapid action framed by the Nature Recovery Network that means we can all re-build sustainable ecosystems which will protect and restore habitats, species and landscapes to allow nature to thrive everywhere.
Over the next few years in order to achieve nature’s recovery we’ll focus on four goals:
- Resilient landscapes and seas – a resilient network of land, water and sea that is rich in plants, wildlife and character and provides wide benefits for people
- Sustainable development – achieve thriving nature and beautiful land and seascapes through our engagement in the planning and licensing systems to enable society to prosper
- Greener farming and fisheries – supporting farming and fisheries to operate in harmony with the environment
- Connecting people with nature – to secure health and wellbeing benefits
We’re therefore working up a new five-year plan for Natural England that will define how we deliver and measure our four goals, working across government. We are also making changes in the way we work, for example in how we use science and evidence. That means we will operate effectively as a statutory conservation body with unique powers to designate, regulate and protect nature, whilst at the same time leading activity, for example through the Nature Recovery Network, convening partnerships and enable and accrediting action by others.
Biodiversity loss and climate change are challenges we all face. We are committed to involving our stakeholders more closely in our work, designing and delivering what we do in partnership as we begin to work towards this new vision for nature and people. Please read more here about our plans this year and look out for more information as our new strategy begins to take shape in the coming months.