The proposals seek to reconnect people with nature. This includes outside learning for school children so they can better understand how food gets from field to fork and to instil greater respect for the environment in our towns and countryside. And the White Paper goes far beyond a mere statement of nature’s intrinsic value or the special place it has in our lives. It states the vital role nature has in the sustainability of our economy. After years of decline, we want to see a net gain in the quality of our natural environment. The paper sets out how government will incorporate the value of natural capital in our nation’s accounts. This means putting a value on all the resources nature gives us. For instance,we know that bees and other pollinators provide us with around £450 million by pollinating flowers each year and we are starting to understand the value of what nature provides us in clean water, productive soils and so forth. Businesses are way ahead of government in managing what nature has given us. It is time we caught up.
Richard Benyon MP is minister for the environment