Horticulture Week Podcast: 'The biodiversity crisis is in some ways even more urgent than the climate' - Natural England chair Tony Juniper on how nature has the answers

The big idea for this week's guest, Natural England chair Tony Juniper, is 'nature recovery'. His remit covers promoting the benefits of green corridors including adaptation to climate change and flood risk as well as public well-being and carbon capture.

"One of the most important shifts in the discussion over the last ten years has been a move away from this idea that in order to grow the economy and improve conditions for people, that we have to sacrifice the environment and of course, nothing could be further from the truth," he says.

Juniper explains why "biodiversity" has yet to cut through with the public or "achieve prominence in the policy discussion" as a "global emergency" and how the fact that most people seem to think it is a "washing powder" is "not helpful"! The word "nature" is a better way to frame the ideas that he is trying to communicate, how nature is in crisis but also how it is the source of hope and offers the solutions to so many societal and natural problems, he argues.

With a new Prime Minister Liz Truss installed, Juniper explains how preserving the natural world is one of the most powerful ways to make progress in the Conservative's 'levelling up' agenda.

He says:

"For quite a lot of people, levelling up, job creation, bringing economic prosperity to those parts of the country that need it most, it's sometimes looked at as a different thing to restoring the natural world, when in fact these two things need to go hand in hand.

"If levelling up is going to be successful and if the environmental programme is going to be successful these two things are mutually interdependent.

"Imagine the outcomes we could get if we had the engineers, the town planners and the architects, the ecologists and the landscape architects on the same plan, rather than one group leading the discussion and then the others coming in at the end to complain that it's not green enough which is what usually happens!"

Whilst acknowledging the extent of the environmental challenges, Juniper is optimistic that "we have the tools we need" to meet them:

"Most environmentalists who think about this...conclude if you're not an optimist, we're possibly going to squander the last chance we've got...We have to paint a picture which is about possibility rather than catastrophe".

Presenter: senior reporter Rachael Forsyth
digital content manager Christina Taylor

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If you are interested in producing a podcast with HortWeek, contact hortweek@haymarket.com.

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