Rosie Hails, Director of Nature and Science at the National Trust said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement is a welcome intervention for those who care about our natural world. 4000km2 of new habitat in England could be a significant boost for nature and people and for storing carbon. This commitment could form a major contribution to the Westminster Government’s plans to leave an environmental legacy and achieving the aims of the 25 Year Environment Plan. We hope it’s a sign of ambitions for international environmental leadership, ahead of next year’s major UN conferences.
“Of course these new areas will need proper management to help nature’s recovery if they are to be more than lines drawn on a map. We know that even in some areas already protected for nature such as our National parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and many Sites of Special Scientific Interest that nature often isn’t doing well – and these are supposed to be the jewels in the crown for biodiversity.
“If this announcement is to have a long-lasting impact for nature recovery, the Westminster Government must:
- ensure that in its response to the Glover Review on protected landscapes it explains how National Parks and AONBs will be supported to better deliver for nature
- create legally binding targets for nature through the Environment Bill, including for habitat extent, condition and connectivity
- deliver a well-funded new agricultural system that rewards environmental outcomes, particularly support for landscape and catchment scale changes that could be supported through the new system.
- continue to recognise that nature doesn’t observe administrative boundaries, so work with Governments and organisations like ours to maximise the benefits
“As the UK’s biggest landowner, we are fully committed to making an unprecedented contribution to nature recovery, including planting 20 million new trees and creating 20 new green corridors in towns and cities.”