Led by the National Trust, some of England’s largest landowners and managers have come together to sign up to a range of commitments to help the government meet its net zero ambitions and reverse environmental damage.
Those who have signed up include the RSPB, the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Church Commissioners for England, the Duchy of Cornwall, National Parks England, Soil Association, The Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust.
National Trust Director General, Hilary McGrady, commented on the announcement: “While by no means perfect, we saw recently at COP26 what can be achieved when parties work together.
“Healing climate harm is something we are all united in and only by pulling together, sharing our expertise and experience will we have any chance at tackling all its effects.
“This demonstrates what can be done at ground level to tackle the climate change threat, restore nature, and ensure the future health and wellbeing of the landscapes we all love.
“The UK’s Climate Change Committee is clear that ‘a transformation in the use of land’ is needed if we are to meet our Net Zero target. Those who have signed up to these principles have the power to lead that transformation.
“Only by working together will be able to lock up enough carbon in the English countryside to meet the government’s ambition for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and prepare our cherished landscapes and nature for the worsening impacts of climate change.
“The National Trust is working with and for nature by committing to large-scale habitat restoration, a major tree-planting programme and an ambitious net zero target.”
The six climate and nature-based solutions that organisations have signed up to include:
1. Take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change to ensure a net gain in carbon sequestration.
2. Create or restore homes for wildlife that support nature’s recovery and provide long term biodiversity increases.
3. Be designed, implemented and managed in consultation with local communities, taking into account past, present and future landscape character.
4. Facilitate opportunities to deliver benefits for people at a local and a national level, such as access to nature and green job generation.
5. Consider the location, ecology and surrounding landscape to ensure multiple benefits, such as carbon sequestration and flood management.
6. Be future-proofed and adaptively managed so they are climate resilient for generations to come.
Participants have also sent a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice which states their own practical commitments as responsible stewards on how they plan to tackle climate change.
John Weir, Head of Real Estate at the Church Commissioners, added: “The two pillars that underpin our approach to responsible investment are respect for people and respect for the planet.
“The devastating impact climate change is having on both humanity and the natural environment is clear for all to see, and this requires the private and third sectors working closely with government to create a world that is greener, healthier and safer.
“As an organisation with significant land holdings, we have the potential to leverage our natural assets to deliver positive social and environmental outcomes while still fulfilling our fiduciary duties for the Church.
“This pact brings together some of England’s biggest landowners and we look forward to working alongside the National Trust and other landowners in meeting the ambitious targets we have all agreed to set ourselves.”