UK regulator chiefs call for nature-based solutions to combat climate change

Natural England, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Forestry Commission have said they “stand together to call for nature-based solutions to be prioritised” in the current COP26 negotiations.

Writing in the Independent, EA chair Emma Howard Boyd, Natural England chair Tony Juniper and Forestry Commission chair William Worsley said such a move would “not only help us adapt society, so we are more resilient to climate disruption, it will also reduce emissions helping to reach net zero”.

They noted that the UK could deliver up to 37% of the emissions reductions that it needs by “improving the way forests, grasslands, agriculture and other lands are managed”.

They argued that the UK cannot reach net zero or limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees “without protecting and restoring our natural world”.

“We have a chance – and a responsibility – to use COP26 to catalyse the change we need to reset our relationship with nature,” they wrote. 

Establishing and managing trees, forests, and woodlands in England so that they are fit for the future should be a key part of the response to climate change, they argued.

As the government’s key environmental agencies, they said they supported the commitment to treble rates of tree planting and woodland establishment by the end of this parliament and said they were committed “to making sure the right trees go in the right place for the right reason”. 

“This includes making sure trees and woodlands are resilient to the challenges of a changing climate themselves, by creating new woods via natural regeneration,” they added.