The Ramblers’ Adrian Morris yesterday attended the Government’s ‘stakeholder workshop’, to help develop ideas for the planned Natural Environment White Paper. He floated an idea (along with the representative from the volunteering charity BTCV) – to develop a ‘one-stop-shop’ scheme to help people volunteer in the natural environment – which came out second from top amongst all the ideas put forward, in a show of hands.
The original government discussion paper on the Natural Environment, issued this summer, was strong on biodiversity but weak on the importance of people in nature. In our submission back to the Government, we’ve highlighted how important that link with people is, and we’ve offered to help with drawing up firmer proposals on the enjoyment and understanding of the natural environment for inclusion in the White Paper. When people experience nature, when they volunteer to protect it, and when they tell others about the experiences they’ve had, they help to create a climate of respect for it. It’s good to hear that the Minister, Richard Benyon MP, talked at yesterday’s workshop about how “getting people active and enjoying our natural environment is the key issue”, and also recognising the importance that people attach to their access to nature. And the strength of positive feeling amongst other ‘stakeholders’ yesterday for the promotion of volunteering is encouraging too. After all, it’s what the Ramblers has been doing for decades. All the more reason why we need to show that swingeing cuts to rights of budgets – as proposed by some local authorities right now – would be counter-productive.
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