Act for Nature: the campaign for a Nature & Wellbeing Act

What is the Nature and Wellbeing Act?

A proposed piece of legislation to bring about the recovery of nature in a generation, for the benefit of people and wildlife.  The proposals have been drafted by The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB and are supported by more than 20 partner organisations.  A joint public campaign - Act for Nature - is asking politicians to act for nature. More than 9,000 people contacted their MPs about the Act (including every MP in England) before Parliament was dissolved on 31 March ahead of the 2015 General Election. We believe that the restoration of nature - and the many ways this would benefit society - needs to be a central priority for the next government. 

Why do we need it?

We need nature – but our relationship with it is in trouble.

We need legislation that supports and scales up individual action for nature

Nature matters to all of us, but the loss of wildlife is continuing at an alarming pace. 60% of our key species are in decline as is our own health and wellbeing. The two things are linked.  And changing a policy here and there won’t be enough to halt the loss and start the recovery.  So together with the RSPB, our partners and the support of people like you, we’re calling for a Nature and Wellbeing Act – to put nature at the heart of how our country is run, ensuring everyone enjoys the benefits it provides in our everyday lives.  This is a ‘Big Ask’ – but if we don’t start asking, we won’t get the change that nature and people need.

The Act would put nature at the heart of how decisions are made about health, housing and other development, education, economic growth, flood resilience and every community.  It would ensure for instance that local and national ‘ecological networks’ are mapped out and created to put wildlife habitats back into the landscape.

Over 90% of people recently surveyed agreed that our wellbeing and quality of life is based on nature and biodiversity.  We need that message to reach our politicians so please join our campaign & ask your MP to Act for Nature, and call for a Nature and Wellbeing Act in their Party’s election manifesto.  You can read our Green Paper for more details.


 

What would the Nature and Wellbeing Act do?

The Act would put nature at the heart of how decisions are made about health, housing and other development, education, economic growth, flood resilience and every community. It would ensure for instance that local and national ‘ecological networks’ are mapped out and created to put wildlife habitats back into the landscape. 

The Nature and Wellbeing Act Green Paper sets out what the Act would achieve in more detail. but broadly

  • Improve the status of species and their habitats for the next generation
  • Place the value of nature at the heart of decision-making, nationally and locally, and across all Government Departments
  • Ensure that local action for nature is linked across the land delivering natural green spaces and ecosystems, that are more resilient in the face of climate change
  • Better connect people with nature, giving everyone access to natural green spaces and ensuring that our children have a greater understanding of our natural world and what it does for us.

More on why it's needed

Our actions as a society over the past century have undermined nature’s ability to support us – just as our need for that support has increased.  The habitats, plants and animals that sustain us have declined consistently across the vast majority of the country.  This affects how our environment soaks up extreme rainfall, absorbs carbon, and provides clean water.  It affects the health of our soils, fish stocks and pollinators.  It affects how we can adapt to climate change, the liveability of our cities and the productivity of our countryside.

Nature has become more remote from us and less present in our daily lives. The State of Nature report found that 60% of UK species we know about are in decline. Habitats are becoming more fragmented and their condition is worsening to the extent that only 37% of our best sites are in good condition.

Over the same period, conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression have increased and it is estimated that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives.  Improvements in overall health are skewed towards wealthier sections of society, causing health inequalities to increase.  Yet there is considerable evidence to show that contact with nature can help to prevent and reverse poor health and wellbeing.  We need to reverse both trends and bring nature back.  We need to invest more time, energy, commitment and money into nature’s recovery – because wildlife and wild places need it, and because our health, wellbeing and prosperity depend upon it.  (You can read about examples from around The Wildlife Trusts where helping nature to recover is helping to improve life for people here.)

We’re already starting to see the effects: the stark facts of last year’s State of Nature report (60% wildlife decline); one in 10 children regularly play in wild places; one in four of us will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in our lives; and in the ecological debt we’re building when we pursue growth at all costs.

Why do we need new legislation?

Our existing environment laws are strong, and they deliver protection for our wildlife, but now we need to go further – we need recovery.  We need legislation that explicitly does this, and recognises the fundamental importance of the natural environment to our society and the economy, as well as its intrinsic worth and popularity with the English population.  The Act will make nature’s recovery a public policy objective of central importance to everyone and give it the priority that it requires.  We can all do our bit for nature but legislation can help create positive change for nature at the speed and scale we really need.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read the Nature & Wellbeing Act Green Paper summary and in full, plus click here if you'd like to find out more.

Partners

We are working with the RSPB to generate support for the Nature and Wellbeing Act, with the backing of a number of other organisations.

If you'd like to discuss lending your organisation's support please contact Dominic Higgins dhiggins@wildlifetrusts.org

Downloads

FilenameFile size
green_paper_nature_and_wellbeing_act_full_final.pdf4.13 MB
green_paper_nature_and_wellbeing_act_summary_final.pdf1.43 MB
natural_fixes_wt_general_election_low-res_dps.pdf2.47 MB
nwa_summary_document_final.pdf1.37 MB