We depend entirely on a healthy natural environment for our wealth and wellbeing. It is fundamental to our economy and social structures, our homes and neighbourhoods, our ability to create and construct things, and to our health and happiness. Human beings are part of the natural world; we are one species amongst millions and have evolved to be part of nature, not apart from it.
While millions of people regularly watch TV programmes about nature and wildlife, the membership of nature conservation organisations is growing but really needs more support to help wildlife for the future. Legislation intended to protect nature is becoming more abundant and a growing area of land (and more recently, sea) is being designated as having special protection. However wildlife and wild places have been declining in quantity and quality for decades and continue to do so. The high value that people often attach to nature on a personal, individual level, is rarely translated into public policy or the investment and spending decisions of government, organisations and private companies.
The Wildlife Trusts (TWTs) are working within communities across the UK to create Living Landscapes and to secure Living Seas – to make places that are rich in wildlife, bigger, better and more joined up. This will provide a long-term future for the natural communities of plants, animals and fungi with which we share these islands and their surrounding seas, and will increase the natural environment’s ability to provide value to people now and in future. We are working to help nature to recover – for its own good and for the good of the people who depend on it. We don’t just want to slow or halt the decline: we want to reverse it.
If we’re going to succeed in this, and these Living Landscapes and Living Seas are going to spread and last, then a far greater part of society will need to be inspired to take action for nature, and enabled to both feel and understand the full extent of how valuable nature is to us and our communities.
Nature matters simply because it does, but also because it brings people huge emotional value, it delivers a wide range of valuable goods and services that are of practical benefit to society, and much of the emotional and practical value that it generates has financial value which contributes to the economic performance of the UK. It is central to addressing many of the UK’s most pressing social and economic problems (such as declining mental health, increasing non-communicable diseases, declining social cohesion, increasing inequality, increasing flood risk, increasing urbanisation) and to maintaining the productivity and quality of life of a growing and aging population).