What land provides is becoming increasingly important. The climate emergency makes new demands on land, including the possibilities of using it to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Responding to the biodiversity crisis requires allocating more space for nature. Yet, globally, pressures on land to produce food and timber are increasing and despite the evidence that time spent in green spaces is essential to our well-being, our connection to nature is weaker than ever.   

This report proposes a Green New Deal for Nature to tackle these problems synergistically. Within the next decade, the UK government needs to agree to design a UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan, in order to allocate 25% of the UK’s land primarily to wildlife and carbon sequestration. Key to this Plan is to re-establish woodlands to link existing habitats together, and to connect them to people.

Implementing the UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan would be funded by a combination of altered agricultural subsidies and proposed new legislation. Carbon taxes would be charged to industries that cannot reach net zero emissions within the next three decades, and local communities would be allowed to buy land and manage it sustainably for the long term. 

Given that just 20% of the UK is cropland or very densely urbanised, the opportunities to make space for nature are abundant. More than half of the UK’s land is used for grazing animals.  Grazing land designated ‘low-grade’ is typically dependent on public subsidies to be used, and could easily provide most of the land needed for rewilding and restoration.Expanding some of the UK’s 120,000 hectares of hedgerows to become linear forests will allow urban and suburban areas to connect with larger areas of restoration and rewilding across the UK. This connection will help wildlife move and adapt to the rapid effects of climate change. 

Legislation to allow a right to roam in these newly restored habitats make the Restoration Plan one that can involve everyone. Coupling this with legislation to help healthy diets become the norm, including banning the advertising of meat and dairy products that would swiftly drive the development and marketing of highly desirable plant-based alternatives.  Mandating all schools and hospitals to provide healthy and sustainable meals as standard will substantially reduce the land-area needed to feed the UK, making space for nature in the UK and beyond.

A UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan will contribute to the UK reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions, restore our precious biodiversity, and help us adapt to climate change. And by connecting people and nature it will improve our physical and mental health. This Green New Deal for Nature could turn the UK from one of the world’s most nature-depleted counties into green and vibrant land.

Key Points

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Introduction

We all rely on nature for our daily sustenance. Nature supplies our sense of time as we see the seasons change. Our culture swims in nature’s currents, as all those animal-filled books we show our children can attest. Yet the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth[1]. And if government and society at large do not radically alter course, depletion could turn to disaster[2].

A new global assessment signed off by the world’s governments shows that one in four of all species on earth face possible extinction, many within decades[3]. In 2018 alone, 3.6 million hectares of old-growth forest was destroyed, an area the size of Belgium[4]. Even the biodiversity that is most directly important to humans is dwindling: 9% of all the breeds of mammals that humans have domesticated over the past 10,000 years had been driven to extinction by 2016[5]. The natural infrastructure that sustains a global network of complex civilisations is being eroded more quickly than ever before. We are in peril and it is time to act.

The biggest driver of global environmental change on land is agriculture; in the ocean, it is fishing.  The scale of the human footprint on Earth is staggering: agriculture has entirely replaced the original ecosystems across 40% of the world’s land surface[6]. And if you weighed all the land mammals on Earth today, 30% would be the weight of humans, 67% the weight of farm animals used to feed us, and just 3% wild mammals[7].

Without radical action we will see the sixth mass extinction event in the 541 million year history of complex life on Earth[8]. In response, increasing numbers of scientists are suggesting that we humans restrict ourselves to using half of Earth, and that the other half be used primarily for other species.[9]. Whatever the exact figure and approach, new attitudes towards how we use land and sea are needed to stem the biodiversity crisis.

 Farming and fishing are now joined by increasingly severe climate disruption[10]. Current policies would see Earth’s temperature rise between 3°C and 4°C by the end of the century. Whether human society as we know it, or millions of other species, can endure such epochal change, is not known. This difference may not sound large, but past variations in Earth’s temperature between ice age and interglacial conditions were about 5°C, a change that totally transformed Earth’s ecosystems.

Society will be forced to adapt to our rapidly altering climate. And so will the rest of life. In today’s fast-changing environmental conditions, plants and animals face one of three fates: adapt, move, or die. Life is  in the thrall of a global reorganisation, with mass waves of extinction expected[11].

Radical action is necessary to stabilize the climate, just as it is to curb the biodiversity crisis[12]. Globally, greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero in order to stabilise the climate. To limit warming to 1.5°C, this means a 45% cut in emissions levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, in every country and every sector[13].

 The failure to take decisive action on climate over the past 30 years means that immediate  drastic emissions cuts to remove substantial amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is necessary. Restoring ecosystems is a key pillar of limiting warming to 1.5°C, as it is a safe, technologically feasible, and cost-effective method of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere[14]. Globally, these natural climate solutions are  anticipated to contribute about 30% of carbon removal from the atmosphere under published 1.5°C compliant emissions reduction pathways[15].

A Green New Deal for Nature that tackles both the biodiversity and climate crises in a socially just way can achieve this and more. By re-establishing and reconnecting ecosystems, carbon is drawn out of the atmosphere to help stabilise the climate, organisms can move as the climate changes, and the loss of plants, insects and wildlife can be halted or even reversed.

A Green New Deal for Nature is also a direct investment in a socially just future. Just as the poorest nations are least able to defend themselves from, and adapt to, a rapidly changing climate, so the poorest within a society will bear a disproportionate burden. Averting climate breakdown is an act of social justice both locally and globally.

A Green New Deal for Nature can also help reconnect us to nature and to each other. In the words of author Richard Louv, we should all take more Vitamin N, time spent in Nature. Reconnecting the UK through nature can help recreate a more green and vibrant land that works for people now and in the future.

Toggle Full Article

Restore and rewild 25% of the UK to reconnect it, within the next decade

A Green New Deal for Nature should restore ecosystems across 25% of the UK within the next decade. On land, these recoveries must connect lower-lying areas with higher ground, and include major corridors linking the south of the UK with the north, so that species can move as temperatures continue to rise. Seas, while beyond the scope of this report, will also need protected fishing-free areas running north-south, again to facilitate habitat recovery and species movement.

Allowing more space for nature across 25% of the UK would allow most people access to diverse landscapes, and is enough to link ecosystems across the landscape. This will help plants and animals better adapt to climate change, without major reductions in agricultural lands needed for food production. It will also help us to reach net zero emissions, which is important, as the UK was the first to industrialise and so should be the first country to implement the end of carbon pollution.   

To put the current situation in context, before farming the overwhelming majority of the UK was probably tree-covered. Today, about 13% of the UK is woodlands and other tree cover, but 51% of these are pine trees that dominate UK forestry and are not very beneficial to wildlife. Just 2% of the UK’s land area is ancient woodlands, including a tiny 0.06% of native Scots pine forest[16]. For other habitats mass destruction has also occurred. For example, flower rich meadows cover a mere 1% of the UK, down from about 30% a century ago[17]. 

From these low levels of wildlife rich habitat, returning 25% of the UK to a more natural state may appear over-ambitious. However, the UK government will need to enable major changes in land use to meet our climate change commitments. It is not a much greater task to ensure it is done in a way that also improves biodiversity and our health and wellbeing. For example, the same shift in UK diets towards eating less meat and drinking less milk to improve our health is also needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is, that means less land is needed for grazing and pasture, which can free-up land for restoration for the benefit of wildlife and human-beings[18].

A Green New Deal for Nature means accelerating these changes and re-orientating responses to recreate new habitats and ecosystems that can adapt as the climate changes, as well as removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

Given the scale of change, rewilding – the large-scale restoration of ecosystems – should become the default plan for bringing habitats back. Rewilding means people giving natural processes a helping hand, such as letting a woodland regenerate, stopping the draining of a peatland, or reintroducing locally extinct species, to let nature take care of itself. While it is not appropriate in all settings – the restoration of a variety of more open habitats like flower-rich meadows are also desirable - rewilding connects people and nature and is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to resist climate breakdown and wildlife loss at the same time[19].

Ecosystem restoration can help reduce the 12% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions that come from the land sector. The potential of restoration and rewilding can be seen by noting that 11% of these emissions are from agriculture, and another 4% are from peatland degradation, but soils and tree growth are compensating some of that by absorbing 3% of all UK emissions[20]. Simply put, by trebling the uptake by ecosystems through creating new woodlands and restoring degraded peatlands, the land sector  can achieve net-zero emissions. 

However, the land becoming net zero is not enough - the entire economy must become net zero. The land sector needs to become massively net-negative, because the land will need to store much more carbon to contribute to the mitigation of emissions from other activities such as long-haul flights where there is no prospect of reaching zero emissions before 2050[21]. As the UK’s statutory advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change notes, “using land released from agriculture for carbon sequestration and restoring natural habitats can deliver deep emissions reduction by 2050”[22].

Where  should restored ecosystems be? There are a number of options. Officially, the UK has 24.2 million hectares of land, of which 72%, some 17.5 million hectares, is classed as ‘utilised agricultural land’, including all rough grazing and other livestock land[23]. Such figures hide huge scope for ecosystem restoration, as crops cover just 18% of the UK, with at least 40% of UK land being pasture and grazing land[24]. Of the croplands, an astonishing 50% of UK production of cereals (wheat, barely, oats, maize) is for animal feed. While the urban area is just 5% of the UK, of which less than 1% is densely urbanised[25].

So, even if all cropland and densely urbanised land is kept strictly off-limits to these changes, roughly 80% of the UK’s land could be managed to increase carbon stocks and benefit wildlife. Looked at this way, allocating 25% of the UK as providing more space for nature is not completely possible .

*This increases from 1.5 million ha to a minimum of 4.5 million ha, including the restored fenced, open grazing and suburban land. Some of the Freshwater/Peatland categories would also becomes woodland, up to 6 million ha broadleaf woodland in total.**Total woodland from original woodland plus newly restored fenced, open grazing and suburban land, 18%, or 24% if all peatland and freshwater and coastal areas become woodland. Including conifers increase total tree cover to between 24% and 30% in total. 

The Committee on Climate Change estimates, based on a Forestry Commission analysis, that in addition to the 12% of the UK that is already tree-covered, about 5 million hectares - almost 21% of the UK - could be restored to native forests and other high-diversity habitats[27]. The Committee on Climate Change recommends an increase in forest cover to 19% by 2050[28].

Some of the focus should be on low value ‘grade 4’ agricultural land, usually used for rough grazing. A recent analysis identified 12% of England as roughly 1.6 million hectares that could be restored[29]. A quarter of this area is near England’s major urban areas which can benefit the most people with minimal impacts on food production.

The lowest agricultural ‘grade 5’ land is typically upland regions. A large fraction of the 5.3% of the UK upland regions (1.3 million hectares) are grouse moor estates currently managed for the shooting industry to the severe detriment of the wider environment,[30]and could be used more purposefully. Some of the 7.8% of the UK that is deer stalking estates in Scotland, again colossal areas managed for the privileged few, would also provide an excellent opportunity for restoration[31]. Much of this grouse and deer stalking land is part of the 12% of the UK that is peatland, currently a major national source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere[32], which could be restored to become a carbon sink in the longer term[33].

The UK government could also stop selling non-urban land and rewild it instead. Some 8% of the UK’s 2 million hectares of public land has been sold by the government over the past 40 years, arguably the most damaging privatisation of the modern era[34]. Ecosystems restoration could also occur on parts of the Royal Estates, Ministry of Defence land, and other government-controlled land.  

Beyond woodlands and peatland restoration, re-wetting  the wetlands is essential, as is the restoration of coastal habitats such as salt marshes, which can help limit some of the impacts of sea level rise and storm surges.

The UK’s 120,000 hectares of hedgerows could also be substantially widened to become linear habitats that connect larger areas of habitat restoration. Allowing these areas to widen and rewild means they become corridors for wildlife, linking key existing habitats. Mixing these with agroforestry systems (where useful trees and crops are grown together) and the broader agroecological farming approach that uses lower inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, but greater knowledge and labour inputs to keep productivity high, can allow healthy produce and more wildlife friendly farming to flourish[35].

Targeting restoration and rewilding near urban centres, where possible, plus expanding hedgerows, riverbank vegetation, and other linear landscape features, would mean many more people  will be closer to life-filled habitats. With legislation for a right to roam in non-agricultural lands, people can have living landscapes as part of their everyday lives. Add tree planting and rewilding in the least green areas of our cities, which are typically among the most income-poor, and rewilding can get into nature-deprived urban areas. 

There are many options to restore, reconnect and rewild the UK. To make this a reality, the UK government should commission a study to use the UK’s land cover and other maps to produce a series of priority areas to re-establish ecosystems to link existing woodlands, meadows, heath, peatlands and other semi-natural ecosystem types into a UK-wide connected network[36]. This plan can then guide policy and future investment. 

A UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan would positively influence other sectors of the UK economy that need to rapidly decarbonise. The UK route to net zero emissions will face strong lobbying from the fossil fuel, aviation and other industries to allocate large areas of land in the UK to fast-growing industrial monoculture tree-farming to supply bioenergy for power-stations and offset large ongoing emissions from these sources. Known as BECCS (BioEnergy Carbon Capture and Storage), this would further industrialise the countryside. An alternative of more restoration, rewilding, and fewer monocultures will still sequester carbon while restoring the countryside.

Restoring 25% of the UK, as in Table 1, would absorb, very approximately, 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2) annually for up to 100 years (equivalent to 14% current UK emissions)[37]. This is approximately 70% of the 89 Mt CO2 of residual emissions from all sectors of the UK economy that the Committee on Climate Change expects in 2050 will need to be offset to reach net zero emissions, and larger than the 51 CO2 role that BECCS is expected to  accomplish  by 2050[38].  Ecosystem restoration can play a critical role in meeting net zero.

A UK-wide Restoration and Rewilding Plan could make the UK governments’ woefully inadequate climate change National Adaptation Program fit for purpose in this area. It can join together the relevant strands of adaptation across new habitat creation, natural flood management, protected areas, community forests, forestry,  and protecting peatlands into a coherent UK-wide connected whole[39]. It would also massively boost the National Adaptation Plan’s paltry  strategy to create 0.5 million hectares of new wildlife rich habitat over the next 25 years[40], bringing it closer to the UK’s Wildlife Trusts’ vision of the future[41].

Adding land ownership details as an overlay to the UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan will then identify those with the power to change land use, allowing local communities to exercise a much greater influence over the landscapes they live in. In turn, this will promote land-use decisions in the interests of many more people than landowners alone.

Given that a full 50% of England is owned by less than 1% of the UK population, transparency is essential, as restoring grouse moors, hunting estates, peat bogs, and marginal agricultural land will require challenging sometimes powerful landowners to act in the interests of wider society[42]. Government legislation for a Community Right to Buy in England and Wales, as there is in Scotland, is one way to challenge landowners and begin to democratise land ownership for habitat restoration and rewilding.  

The focus on connection also means no one landscape type or land cover class would be wholly altered. Sheep would still roam the Lake District, for example, but fewer of them and different breeds would thrive; some upland areas would be naturally reforested to link them to lowland forested areas in the north of England,  and further connections made all the way to the Northern coast of Scotland and down to the Southern coast of England. A similar plan for the sea will be needed, but is beyond the scope of this report. 

A decade-long UK-wide Restoration and Rewilding Plan to bring back a green and vibrant land would set a trajectory within which policy and investment can cohere, providing land use policy that is fit for the 21st century. And because it links the whole of the UK, all regions would benefit.

How to pay for it?

There are two major opportunities to fund the re-establishment of life-filled landscapes over 25% of the UK. First, post-Brexit funding for agriculture, replacing EU payments to farmers, should include payments for public goods, including wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. Land should be managed for public benefit to receive any public funds, and the new scheme should prioritise public goods, from healthy food to flood protection, and carbon sequestration  to wildlife habitat.

The UK spends about £3 billion on payments to farmers, by some estimates that amounts to about half of farm income[43]. Re-orientating a substantial fraction of this can incentivise the beginning of a transition to restoring and rewilding 25% of the UK, storing more carbon on land and making it more biodiversity friendly, without recourse to major additional public spending.

Currently, landowners are essentially paid to own land via the Common Agricultural Policy. Over 80% of these direct payments go to the largest 20% of UK landowners[44]. In 2015, the top 100 farmers received £87.9m in agricultural subsidies, more than the total amount paid to the bottom 55,119 recipients combined. And there were no payments at all for owners of less than 5 hectares[45].

Smaller farmers can be more productive, flexible, environmentally conscious, and are often better connected to those living locally. In addition to paying for public goods rather than merely owning land, payments for smaller farmers and those who employ more people per hectare should be prioritised to encourage rural employment, reduce rural wealth disparities and improve social cohesion.  Specific payments for helping to achieve the UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan, such as enhanced payments when contiguous land-owners restore part of their land together, would improve uptake at scale.

If the UK does not leave the European Union, other legislation and incentives beyond Common Agricultural Policy payments will be needed. Again, options are available, such as the use of a land-value tax, currently being considered by the Labour Party, from which there could either be a rebate if farmers or land-owners participate in the UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan, or funding from such a tax could contribute to payments for the restoration of habitat.

The second potential major revenue stream is payments for carbon sequestration. Establishing economy-wide carbon pricing can fund carbon sequestration on the land via restoration and rewilding[46]. Again, this can begin a transition to a new green economy. But if carbon taxes work, they will become a lower income stream over time, as the goal is the release of only very low levels of greenhouse gases. Accounting for the social cost of carbon in all planning decisions would further tilt incentive towards carbon-sequestration and payments for natural climate solutions. 

Further financial options are possible, such as the government issuing green bonds, in order to fund the early upfront investment in restoration. A new Offshore Tax, targeting overseas landowners who use UK land for speculation and to avoid tax, can pay for ecosystem restoration. 

Additional legislative routes are also available to provide new habitat for the UK Restoration Plan. For example, the government could make a legal requirement for the owners of land above a certain size to restore a set fraction of their land. This is a similar system to countries such as Brazil, where 50% of forested land must be retained as forest, but in reverse for our nature-depleted country. Legislation to mandate large land-owners to restore or re-wild 25% of their land as part of the National Plan, or else the community   will have a right to buy that land, can balance land-owner, community, and national needs.

Many of the other barriers to restoration are low-cost. Government department reforms are needed, as for example, there is no financial support available from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) for natural forest restoration. By this logic, trees must be planted, but not by natural processes. There is also no support for agroforestry. Simplifying the process of changing land use, simplifying bureaucracy (including the monitoring, reporting and verification of actions to receive payments), and eliminating barriers to new entrants into environmentally friendly farming and habitat restoration, could be significant changes. Payments to landowners, such as one simple online application per farm per year, and one payment per farm per year, can help as well.

A new culture of transparency around land is also essential: knowing who owns land, the funds given to them by the state, and what taxpayers receive in benefits for those funds, would increase public buy-in for habitat restoration, environmentally friendly farming and rewilding. One essential first step is to make the Land Registry fully transparent, freely accessible and electronically searchable, just as Companies House was opened up and made free to use in recent years, to end the secrecy that still pervades land ownership[47]. 

Given that farming and land-use are so interconnected, the government should fund Restoration and Rewilding Farm Extension Officials in order to advise and help farmers realise the potential of receiving payments to secure the UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan. The UK government could also provide long-term low-cost land investment loans to help with the upfront costs and longer payback that restoration plans typically have. 

Farmers, grouse moor owners, and others will also need new legislation and disincentives to reduce harmful activities. The general principle of regulating where necessary, such as banning the burning, cutting and sale of peat, and the banning of grouse shooting because of its severe environmental damage, could be some first steps. Then, heavily taxing harmful products such as pesticides, herbicides, or those with large climate or other environmental impacts such as fertilizer and red diesel, to spur innovation and to allow their use to be reduced use to a minimum, should be coupled with generous payments for actions that produce healthy food, sequester carbon, and benefit wildlife.

Lastly, food demand will need to change to free land for nature. These should be policies that never tell people what to buy, but make the best choices for human and planetary health the easiest and cheapest option. Banning the advertising of meat and dairy products would see the rapid development of alternatives, so major brands could advertise their names, making these products visible and normal. Production at scale will then drive down prices for consumers. Tax breaks for horticulture would reduce prices of UK grown vegetables, encouraging healthy eating.  Government can use its size to assure that all schools, hospitals and governmental bodies  at a local and national level serve healthy and sustainable meals as the default[48].

Overall, individual policies will need to each reinforce the central long-term goal: that the UK plans to have well-managed, productive, low-carbon, wildlife-friendly food production, plus extensive and well-connected areas given as space for nature, to avert climate breakdown, end biodiversity losses, and provide people with access to wildlife-rich nature for decades to come.

Conclusions

To many people, modernity meant turning away from the natural world. The accelerating environmental crisis is putting our treatment of the rest of life on Earth back to the centre of our collective wellbeing. This is not about being kind to wildlife out of altruism or compassion, it is about securing the fundamental physical conditions of modern civilisation. Further, access to natural landscapes are increasingly seen as something everyone should have access to, not only the privileged.

Restoring and rewilding 25% of the UK will give tens of millions of people access to life-filled lands. It will play a key role in avoiding climate breakdown, help wildlife adapt to rapid environmental change, and give protection to communities from the floods, droughts and storm surges that climate change will bring. Our food system will become more resilient, and more contact with nature means better physical and mental health.

Now is a unique time to undertake such a plan. Following decades of neglect, there is a convergence of interests in land[49]. Land is increasing seen as a common good, and in need of common stewardship[50]. The Committee on Climate Change proposals to plant woodlands and restore peatlands are key components to allow the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050[51], a target the UK government recently legislated for[52]. 

The National Farmers Union have pledged that farming will have net zero emissions by 2040[53]. Groups such as The Landworkers’ Alliance are intent on making farming more environmentally friendly; Rewilding Britain are also proposing rewilding 25% of the UK; and Friends of the Earth are calling for a doubling of tree cover to 26% of the UK by 2045[54].

The Green New Deal for Nature proposal to restore and rewild 25% of the UK differs from other schemes, in that it is not just about tree cover or wilder habitats. It is about connecting landscapes to allow nature to adapt to rapid environmental change as well as avoiding climate breakdown, while decreasing social inequality by increasing access to nature. 

A UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan to reconnect the UK could be just the kind of scheme to bring people together in post-Brexit referendum Britain. By including local people in the early planning phases of investigating where to create new wildlife rich land to link together often much-loved local natural habitats via hedgerows, fields and parks can be a democratic shift in land-use. Rather that hedgerows being the barriers of old, these new linear connecting habitats and a right to roam in these new natural areas would complete the shift to the UK being a green and inclusive land.

Restoring 25% of the UK to flourishing wildlife-rich ecosystems is an investment in the future with increasing returns over time. New funding opportunities to do this are on the horizon. Interventions to help people change their diets to less meat and dairy and more plant-based foods can free land for nature. Post-Brexit subsidies for farmers - or if we do not leave the EU, using legislation or revenues from a land-value tax - plus payments for sequestering carbon, can provide the necessary finances to begin this transition to a healthier, greener, and more resilient Britain. 

An ambitious UK Restoration and Rewilding Plan can play a key role, alongside rapid and deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions, in the UK reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions before 2050. Such a plan could become a practical beacon of hope to the world. Beyond this, shifting the UK aid budget to ‘development without destruction’ policies to improve livelihoods and protect nature, with natural climate solutions used to restore degraded ecosystems, could lead to the wider transformative action that is necessary on a global scale.

Simultaneously tackling the scourges of poverty, inequality, and environmental breakdown, a Green New Deal for Nature can help pull us back from the brink of catastrophe, reintegrate human life within the wider natural world, and deliver a secure future for all those yet to come.

See footnotes

[1] Hayhow DB, et al. (2016). State of Nature 2016 Report, State of Nature Partners https://www.rspb.org.uk/globalassets/downloads/documents/conservation-projects/state-of-nature/state-of-nature-uk-report-2016.pdf

[2] Laybourn-Langton L, Rankin L and Baxter D (2019) This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environment breakdown Report, Institute for Public Policy Research. http://www.ippr.org/research/publications/age-of-environmental-breakdown; Lewis, SL & Maslin MA (2018). The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, Pelican. 

[3] Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, May 2019. https://www.ipbes.net/

[4] World Resources Institute Report, 2019. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/04/world-lost-belgium-sized-area-primary-rainforests-last-year

[5]IPBES, May 2019, op. cit.

[6] Ramankutty, N. et al. (2008). Farming the planet: 1. Geographic distribution of global agricultural lands in the year 2000. Global Biogeochemical Cycles Vol. 22, article number GB1003.

[7] Smil V (2012). Harvesting the Biosphere, MIT Press.

[8] Lewis & Maslin (2018), op. cit.

[9] Wilson, EO. (2016). Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, W. W. Norton; Lewis, SL & Maslin, MA (2018) The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, Pengiun.

[10] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.

[11] Lewis SL and Maslin MA (2018),  op. cit., Chapter 7.

[12] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C, op. cit.

[13] From pre-industrial mean surface air temperature. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C, op. cit.

[14] Griscom BW et al. (2017). Natural Climate Solutions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Volume 114, pages 11,645-11,650.

[15] Median contribution from emissions pathways limiting warming to 1.5°C in 2100 (57 Pg C of 199 Pg C negative emissions). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C, op. cit. Chapter 2: 57 Pg C of 199 Pg C (1 Petagram Carbon = 1 billion metric tonnes carbon) from median of pathways that limit warming to 1.5 C by 2100.

[16]  UK Government, Provisional Woodland Statistics: 2019 Edition report. https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/statistics-by-topic/woodland-statistics/. Ancient woodlands statistic (not reported by UK government) from: Woodlands Trust: 

[17] Magnificent Meadow Campaign. http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk/conserve-restore/importance-of-meadows

[18] UK Government, Family Foods 2015 Report.   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/597667/Family_Food_2015-09mar17.pdf#page=17

[19] Some examples of UK rewilding in practice: https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/

[20] Agricultural emissions 53 Mt CO2e (MegaTonne = 1,000 metric tonnes; CO2e = carbon dioxide equivalent) plus peat degradation 18.5 Mt CO2e, subtracting carbon uptake in soils and forest, 13.4 Mt CO2e = 58.1 Mt CO2e in 2016. UK emissions, were 468 Mt CO2e in 2016. Summarised in: https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/Cutting_climate_impact_of_land_use.pdf

[21] In the Committee on Climate Change (2019) Net Zero report, the largest category of negative emission is Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), at 51 Mt CO2 / yr in 2050.The land, dominated by new woodland, is removing 22 Mt CO2 / yr in 2050.

[22] Committee on Climate change (2018). Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change, report. https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Land-use-Reducing-emissions-and-preparing-for-climate-change-CCC-2018.pdf

[23] Includes all arable and horticultural crops, uncropped arable land, common rough grazing, temporary and permanent grassland and land used for outdoor pigs (excludes woodland and other non-agricultural land). https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/747210/structure-jun2018prov-UK-11oct18.pdf

[24] Office for National Statistics (2015). UK Natural Capital Land Cover in the UK. Table 4. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/uknaturalcapitallandcoverintheuk/2015-03-17

[25] Office for National Statistics (2018). UK natural capital: ecosystem accounts for urban areas. Table 1, so-called ‘Grey Space’. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/bulletins/uknaturalcapital/ecosystemaccountsforurbanareas. And independent assessment give a figure of 6% urban: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/land-cover-atlas-uk-1.744440

[26] Simplified and rounded numbers given for clarity, from a combination of the Countryside Survey, UK National Ecosystem Assessment, Land Cover Map 2000 and SEEA-EEA approaches, each of which serve different purposes, use different underlying data, different methods, and different classifications, including land use and land cover categories. https://countrysidesurvey.org.uk/content/land-cover-map;  https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/uknaturalcapitallandcoverintheuk/2015-03-17; https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/uknaturalcapitallandcoverintheuk/2015-03-17#land-cover-accounts

[27] Committee on Climate Change Net Zero report, op. cit.

[28] Committee on Climate Change Net Zero report, op. cit.

[29] Friends of the Earth UK (2019). Finding the land to double tree cover report. https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/print/pdf/node/122

[30] Figure is from British Association of Shooting and Conservation (2015). Grouse shooting and management in the United Kingdom: its value and role in the provision of ecosystem services. https://basc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/03/Research-White-Paper-Grouse-shooting-and-management.pdf

[31] Figure is from Public and Corporate (2016). The Contribution of Deer Management to the Scottish Economy report. http://www.deer-management.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Final-25FEB.pdf  

[32] Committee on Climate Change Net Zero report, op. cit.

[33] In the short-term the re-wetting peatlands will result in an increase in the emissions of methane alongside a reduction of the emissions of carbon dioxide, and that only after a decade or more will the methane production be more than offset by peat accumulation as the peatland restores its past ecological functions, leading to a net cooling impact on the planet.

[34] Christophers, B (2018). The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain, Verso. https://www.versobooks.com/books/2871-the-new-enclosure https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/05/public-land-sell-off-none-left-2050

[35] See for example, Land Workers Alliance (2017). Small Agroecological farms report.  https://landworkersalliance.org.uk/2017/07/small-scale-agroecological-farms-attract-uk-workers-produce-high-yields-of-vegetables-and-deliver-multiple-environmental-and-social-benefits/

[36] The UK has good land cover data to do this, see: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/7bee7d0b-1470-4993-bb66-35eb5eb11856/land-cover-map-2015-vector-gb

[37] Using figures from Natural England for grazing to woodland sequestering 13.7 t CO2 ha-1 yr-1, and wetland restoration sequestering 0.86 t CO2 ha-1 yr-1 (note that the wetland is reversing a large source), from Natural England (2012). Carbon storage by habitat: Review of the evidence of the impacts of management decisions and condition of carbon stores and sources. Natural England Research Report NERR043.

[38 CCC Net Zero (2019), op cit.

[39] DEFRA (2018), op cit.

[40] DEFRA (2018). The National Adaptation Programme and the Third Strategy for Climate Adaptation Reporting.  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727252/national-adaptation-programme-2018.pdf.

[41] Wildlife Trusts (2018). Towards a Wilder Britain. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/Nature_recovery_network_final.pdf

[42]Statistic from: Shrubsole, G. (2019). Who Owns England? How We Lost Our Green and Pleasant Land, and How to Take it Back. Harper Collins.

[43] Pillar 1 plus Pillar 2 UK contribution. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/common-agricultural-policy

[44] Land Workers’ Alliance (2017). Making Food Sovereignty a Reality Recommendations for Post-Brexit Agricultural Policy report. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6eRd6MaabyucmdySjBLaTRScjQ/view

[45]Land Workers’ Alliance (2017). Op. cit.

[46] Set out clearly in Rewilding Britain (2019). Rewilding and Climate Breakdown: How Restoring Nature Can Help Decarbonise the UK. https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/assets/uploads/Rewilding%20and%20Climate%20Breakdown%20-%20a%20report%20by%20Rewilding%20Britain.pdf

[47] Must include the identities of beneficial owners.

[48] For details of healthy diets that are sustainable see, The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Heath. https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/

[49] For example, see 2010 UK government report, Making Space for Nature, which shows the neglect of land, and makes the case for linked ecological networks, but has seen little action by government. https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130402170324/http:/archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/biodiversity/documents/201009space-for-nature.pdf

[50]See for example, Monbiot, G (2019) Land for the Many: Changing the way our fundamental asset is used, owned and governed. https://landforthemany.uk/

[51] Committee on Climate Change (2019) Net Zero report, op. cit.

[52]https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8590

[53] National Farmers Union. https://www.nfuonline.com/news/media-centre/press-releases/nfu-reiterates-its-net-zero-aims-for-agriculture/

[54]  Land Workers’ Alliance (2017) Post-Brexit report, op cit.; Rewilding Britain (2019) Rewilding and Climate Breakdown report, op cit.;  

More of our latest reports:

Sign up to our mailing list

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.