Our environment is the natural foundation on which our economy is builtUnited Kingdom
Protecting our natural world has solid economic benefits – it creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of pounds.
Our approach to our natural environment is often bafflingly equivocal.
On the one hand, we're unified by our appreciation of the beauty of our waterways, forests and the diversity of plants, birds and animals. On the other, appreciation hasn't saved them from piecemeal degradation over the years.
Too often as a society, we decide that economic gain and environmental protection are incompatible, instead of inseparable.
The beauty of our landscapes is significant, but few are aware of the solid economic benefits they bring – and what we don't value we don't protect.
So today, when rebuilding their economies is the number one priority for governments across the world, we need to start making the economic case for our environment at least as strongly as we have been making the aesthetic one.
Today, Defra is launching a discussion paper that will lead to the first Natural Environment white paper in 20 years.
It points out that our environment is the natural foundation on which our economy is built.
It creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of pounds.
English national parks, for example, support over 54,000 tourism-related jobs. The Peak District national park on its own contributes £155m to the region – 60% of local businesses say they would suffer if the landscape deteriorated.
Our natural assets don't just add to the quality of our lives – they can actually extend them. Those living within 500m of green space are almost 25% more likely to be active at recommended levels. It's also been estimated that the NHS could save over £2bn through increased activity in open green spaces – our home-grown natural health service.
Our trees are "multitaskers" – capturing carbon and holding soils together, preventing flooding and helping control our climate. They play a particularly important role in our urban cities – in some parts of inner London each tree is calculated to be worth as much as £78,000 in terms of its benefits.
The natural environment, of course, isn't just restricted to our land or air. The passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act clears the way to the creation of a network of marine conservation zones around the UK that will provide ecosystem services worth up to £1.6bn every year.
The Natural Environment white paper isn't about simply trying to put a price on nature, but about recognising its true value.
The services we get from our environment, ecosystems and biodiversity are not, for the most part, optional. Our honeybees and other pollinators, for example, contribute up to £440m to our economy every year, 13% of the country's entire income from farming.
If our natural capital isn't providing these kinds of services, we will have to pay for an alternative. This isn't just about altruism; it's about enlightened self-interest.
The natural environment is incredibly generous – it provides us with goods and services worth trillions of pounds at no cost.
All it needs in return is that we allow it the ability to function and maintain itself.
If we degrade it to the point that its ability to mitigate the effects of climate change, purify our air and water and keep us healthy is lost, there will be a heavy price to pay.
And our children and theirs will be the one to pay it. We need to become the generation that draws a line in the sand of the steady degradation of our natural capital and says "no more".
El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.
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