In the last week of our election blog series, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Ed Green makes the case for a Nature and Wellbeing Act. The Wildlife Trusts’ and the RSPB’s e-petition will close on 30th March, so this is your last chance to send a loud and clear message to your MP that nature needs our help.
Well here we are. It’s the last week of parliament for this government. The final Prime Minister’s questions have come and gone in a flurry of soundbites and cacophony of guffaws. The UK political system is entering the final race to the finish line and come May 7th we will see which horse passes the post first. As the jockeys jostle for position they make promises on VAT , National Insurance, tax, spending; all the time second guessing what voters want. But, despite all the advisers and focus groups, how near to the mark are our politicians and would be leaders?
In the early 1970s New Zealand’s Prime Minister Norman Kirk laid out his political philosophy. People, he said, don’t want much. They want: “someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.” Let’s unpick the contribution of wildlife and nature to those aspirations.
Some people certainly love wildlife, and few people really hate it, but let’s not overplay the role of nature in human romance, any more than the expectation that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer will enhance anyone’s prospects for love through future budgets. However, have you ever met anyone who wants somewhere to live which is devoid of birdsong, free from any greenery or colourless from the absence of flowers? All these play into the huge premium placed on living somewhere with trees, parks, a river, by the coast or with views of open spaces.
As for jobs surely they don’t all depend on nature? Well actually they do, according to the government itself (aka Office of National Statistics) whose estimate of nature’s practical value to the UK is £1.5 trillion, a sum equivalent to the deficit about which we hear so much. Increasing the value of the former would help to decrease the latter. Yet, as Tony Juniper states in his new book, there is a ‘falsehood at the heart of the political debate, where we continue to be presented with an apparent choice between looking after nature on the one hand or growing our economy on the other’.
Is there hope that politicians are prepared to do the hard work to deliver what people want – an environment which is better, not worse – as well as good education, health and living standards? While there’s not much sign that they are gearing up to do this themselves it falls to others, organisations like Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB, to take the lead. The call for a Nature and Wellbeing Act is our response, and the next stage of the election process, the publication of party manifestos, over the coming few days will see whether any party is willing to take up the challenge.
We call on all political parties to do just that. We don’t want much, just somewhere to live, work and a hope for things to get better. Nature can give us more of all that, so there are votes in nature, you know.
Do your bit to protect wildlife by casting your vote for nature – sign The Wildlife Trusts’ e-petition urging MPs to pledge their support for a Nature and Wellbeing Act. Follow the campaign on social media using #actfornature and inspire your friends and family to do their bit for nature too.