What Nature Does For Britain
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From the peat bogs and woodlands that help to secure our water supply, to the bees and soils that produce most of the food we eat, Britain is rich in 'natural capital'. Yet we take supplies of clean water and secure food for granted, rarely considering the free work nature does for Britain. In fact for years we have damaged the systems that sustain us under the illusion that we are keeping prices down, through intensive farming, drainage of bogs, clearing forests and turning rivers into canals. As Tony Juniper's new analysis shows, however, the ways in which we meet our needs often doesn't make economic sense.
Through vivid first hand accounts and inspirational examples of how the damage is being repaired, Juniper takes readers on a journey to a different Britain from the one many assume we inhabit, not a country where nature is worthless or an impediment to progress, but the real Britain, the one where we are supported by nature, wildlife and natural systems at almost every turn.
what that ‘run-off’ is – soil that has left the fields and is now in the sea. Soil erosion is one of those phenomena that rarely make headlines, though it is profound in its implications. Stories linked with it often do, however, even if most of us don’t notice the connection. One is flooding, another is the price of water. And a third is the cost of food. It is easy to forget that one of the most important functions provided by nature to our economy is the recycling of nutrients. In fact, so
reconnection with the floodplain, spawning and juvenile numbers have increased.’ The river has been transformed, and the water meadows too are beginning to look more like they did a century ago. The grassy areas that flank the Itchen were once integral to the local livestock industry, with pasture production boosted in the early spring by deliberately flooding the land. Inundation from the chalk river with water up to ten degrees warmer than the air thawed the frozen ground, thereby
here, making Rutland the first English breeding home for these birds in 150 years. A hide at the western end of the reservoir looks out over a swampy area of sedges and reed mace. Channels of shallow clear water divide up a wetland habitat that rings and jingles with the sound of several species of songbird, sedge warblers and reed buntings among them. Wildlife watchers can also get great views of the water voles that swim across the ditches and groom themselves on the banks. Across an expanse
underlying assumptions that the natural features were regarded as having no value. The poster was unfortunately far from some fanciful vision. It showed what was actually happening. During the 1960s the destruction of natural features across Britain occurred on a massive scale, pursued in the name of ‘progress’ and backed by a new consensus as to what technology could achieve for us. This was especially evident in farming, as tens of thousands of ponds, hedges and meadows were ploughed into the
worldview conceived in a very real post-war economic and food security crisis – and it is now decades out of date. Modern challenges are different and increasingly linked with nature’s limited capacities being overwhelmed and its assets depleted. Alongside a debate about the role for new laws and more realistic economic assessments, maybe a new poster would help make the point? On the ‘before’ side of the new poster we might see the countryside as it is now: tiny fragments of semi-natural areas