I spend every day of my life working as a conservation professional. I am one of the lucky few to have secured a full time position working for a conservation NGO. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be doing a job that I love, and like many of my colleagues I find it impossible to work out where my work life ends and where a personal drive to improve the natural world begins. Many of my weekends and evenings are taken up in talks, practical conservation tasks or thinking about how I could do my job better.

My current role is one I am passionate about, helping develop Living Landscape Projects in Surrey. I am tasked with linking up the jewels in the crown-our valuable statutory nature reserves and local wildlife sites-by enaging with landowners and the public to offer practical advice on habitat managemnet and sources of funding to create coherent ecological networks. In my armory i now have the Lawton Report which has been transposed into Government Policy through the Natural Environment White Paper and the England Biodiversity Strategy to deliver a more coherent ecological framework.

Whilst these new policies exist at the highest level however its difficult to see how they can be delivered faced with the economic turmoil we are currently faced with and the Governments instance on prioritising development through the National Planning Policy Framework, and proposals to challenge EU legislation that protects wildife.

Its my belief that we urgently need more protection for our natural environment. This can only be done however through an open discussion with a fully informed population about the importance of our natural environment, the services that it delivers (look around you and ask yourself what in your life doesn’t derive from a natural process), and an admission that our lifestyle has to change if we want a landscape that is more than just rescued pieces of biodiveristy from an over-exploited farmland. I suspect thats all we really have now anyway.

I propose that a national discussion needs to take place, as important as the decision over a referndum on the EURO a, about the future ecology of our country. We take it for granted to much that services provided by the natural environment-including simpole things like watre resources or havinga place to walk the dig- will always be there and will be free for us to exploit. I would suggest that the tension between a growth economy and the long term provision of even these simple requiremnets are not compatible. The public need to except this at this stage and adapt before the compromise becomes too uncomfortable or it is deemed necessary through legislation.

Don’t let this time pass without adding your voice. we all need to agree on how our furure landscape will look like, and fully infomed make the sacrifices to preserve a functioning ecological network rather than a museum of agricultural practices.

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