Two-thirds of Brits back ‘National Nature Service’ to get young people into green jobs

Image: Woodland Trust

A Green New Deal Rising poll of 2,025 adults based in the UK, carried out earlier this month, has concluded that 68% would support the creation of such a service.

A National Nature Service was first proposed in the early stages of the pandemic. It would be a UK-wide scheme that would, in the first instance, support young people who are out of work and claiming benefits such as Universal Credits. They would be offered funded training and quality employment in the nature sector.

Entry-level jobs could also be provided for other groups, including those facing employment challenges due to the pandemic and seeking a career change to re-enter the workforce.

Proponents of a National Nature Service have pointed out that jobs could be created rapidly – and that ever-more workers skilled in nature monitoring, conservation and restoration will be needed as the UK works to deliver its pledges.

The Conservatives have promised to leave nature in a better state for the next generation but NGOs, MPs, Lords and the Government’s own watchdog have warned that it is off track. Moreover, the UK is one of more than 190 nations committed to the UN’s new biodiversity treaty, which outlines global plans to halt and end nature loss this decade.

Green New Deal Rising’s poll found that more than three-quarters of the UK public want the Government to focus on the benefits that could be offered through a National Nature Service. These include the provision of jobs in underserved communities; the provision of transferable skills; the creation of more green spaces and the delivery of the 25-Year Environment Plan.

This Plan, published in early 2018, pledges increased woodland cover, air quality and water quality improvements, and waste reduction, among other promises.

Green New Deal Rising is campaigning for all major UK parties to commit to creating a National Nature Service in their manifestoes for the next general election. Members of the group have been pushing the cause outside Labour ministers’ offices in recent days, given the Conservatives’ reluctance to launch such a service to date.

Green New Deal Rising co-director Hannah Martin said “bold action” is “desperately needed” for the UK to respond to the climate and nature crises and social and economic inequalities in tandem.

She said: “For too long, young people have been struggling with zero-hours contracts, precarious contracts, or getting on to the career ladder at all.  The National Nature Service is a way to make meaningful improvements to our environment and deliver multiple employment and health benefits at the same time.”

“School leavers, graduates and middle-aged people should not have to put application after application into companies that are exploiting their workers and the planet. This scheme would ensure they had access to fulfilling work protecting families from sea level rise, restoring peatlands or rewilding areas of their cities.”

The UK is one of the most depleted nations globally in terms of biodiversity intactness. It is in the bottom 10% of nations in the Biodiversity Intactness Index.

40% of species in the UK are in decline and over 15% are threatened with extinction.

Ecological Restoration Fund

In related news, the Wildlife Trusts has this week launched a new £6m fund that will support rewilding projects and the reintroduction of key species.

These species include Exmoor ponies, beavers and highland cows.

The Ecological Restoration Fund will also support conservation in some of the UK’s most at-risk marine and coastal habitats. There will be a focus on Wales in the first instance, given their size and their historic issues with overfishing and pollution.

The Wildlife Trusts states that the funding allocation has been designed to help the UK deliver its international commitment to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

The Trusts’ director of landscape recovery Dr Rob Stoneman said the fund will be “game-changing” and bolster the NGO’s work where it is most needed.

He said: “Extinctions, pollution, and wildfires make headlines with increasing frequency and so it’s vital to go much further with nature recovery across the UK. We must create a place where wildlife, farming and people thrive together; where beavers work their magic and benefit communities; where seas are abundant with marine wildlife, and where there’s easy access to nature to improve people’s lives.”

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