It’s not breaking news to anybody that due to our behaviour, planet earth has become a ticking time bomb. The way in which we consume and exploit the natural resources the planet offers us leads to global crises. From the deforestation in South America or the constantly rising temperature of our oceans to the severe polar vortex that is currently rolling through the US – these events make it crystal clear how disturbingly real climate change is. Protecting the environment has become a task that each individual must engage in, but do we overlook environmental problems on a national level in favour of a more global perspective? Enough people are aware of global warming and its consequences, but when it comes to protecting their local green spaces, they do not seem to see the problem; but the UK does in fact struggle to protect its own natural sites.
Recently, Natural England suffered significant staff and budget cuts. This non-departmental public body which is government sponsored helps protect important environmental sites and nature reserves in England. Their funding has been cut by more than half in the past decade, leaving the agency’s volunteers with a lack of resources to protect the country’s natural sites. However, not only England has environmental protection agencies. Organisations such as the Woodland Trust or the Wildlife Trust are equally as important within the UK as a whole. The latter is engaged in protecting around 2,300 nature reserves across the UK by creating living landscapes, carrying out research, protecting wildlife at sea or helping farmers, schools and local businesses to manage land.
Nonetheless, the question remains: what is the reason behind those budgetary cuts and where did the funding go if not into the wildlife protection of the UK? The government has taken a different approach to money investment in the past couple of years and as you may have guessed, this decision has an inevitable connection to one of the most hotly debated issues of current politics: Brexit. With Brexit imminent, the UK is facing a fiscal gap from the European Union; we will have to adapt to this new reality. The money that the wildlife protection organisations are not receiving will instead go into an increase of staff and funding that will help farmers build up their crops and food supplies.
However, Brexit does not only have an impact on our food supply but also directly on the environment. Over 80 per cent of the UK’s environmental laws come from the EU. Furthermore, the EU has always controlled the protection of the British environment to a certain extent, by limiting the UK’s air pollution for instance. If a no-deal Brexit occurs, we won’t be able to profit from these high environmental standards anymore and it could take the British government months or even years to put new laws into practice.
Simply put, the UK depends on EU experts when it comes to the protection of our ecosystem. Budgetary cuts and Brexit have an effect on CO2 emissions as well as on the protection of endangered species and the preservation of nature reserves all over the country. Although we must be aware of the global issues of our time, we cannot forget that climate change starts at a local level. We cannot overlook this if we are to protect our biodiversity.
Image: Gary Campbell-Hall via Wikipedia Commons