27th February 2017

UK Nature

by Enza Ferreri

Surrey, River Wey scenery

Surrey, River Wey scenery

The Office for National Statistics has published the UK Environmental Accounts for the year 2012.

This says:

"The total area of the UK covered by woodland increased by 0.3 per cent in 2011, compared with 2010, to 3.08 million hectares - the highest since 1924....
"The area covered by woodland as at 31 March 2011, 12.7 per cent of the UK land area, is greater than two-and-a-half times the area covered in 1924." [Emphasis added]

1924 is the year in which records began. These data will be very surprising to most people, due to the common misconceptions, mainly propagated by the environmentalists, about disappearing woodland and the spread of urban areas.

Mark Easton, the BBC's Home Editor, who wrote the blog post "The great myth of urban Britain", will not be the only one to have been shocked by these statistics.

He and Dominic Lawson, columnist of The Sunday Times, are, as far as I know, among the very few, if not the only, UK journalists who reported and commented on this news that goes against the green received wisdom that the environment must necessarily deteriorate.

What claims to be the first "coherent body of evidence about the state of Britain's natural environment", the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), involving the work of 500 experts analysing large amounts of data, in 2011 concluded that just "6.8% of the UK's land area is now classified as urban".

"Urban" is defined broadly to include roads and rural development as well as cities, towns and villages, and even these are not all built on.

The study found that 54%, more than half of the land of cities, towns and villages is greenspace like allotments, parks, playing fields, sport pitches and similar; another 18% is household gardens; a further 6.6% is rivers, canals, reservoirs, lakes.

So we have here, as Easton observes, "the extraordinary finding that almost four-fifths of what is designated urban land is not built on" [Emphasis added].

The conclusion of the UK NEA, the most detailed study on this topic ever carried out, then, is that nearly 98% of England and over 99% of other parts of the UK are natural.

Many of the comments to Easton's item focus on the way he, in other posts, underestimates the current population problem, due to mass, unrestricted immigration, facing Britain. The validity of his optimistic remarks on the UK's woodland and natural habitats, based on detailed analysis, cannot obviously be transferred to the dangerously rosy way he deals with the other problem.

It may even be the case that the BBC is now focusing on how green and pleasant our land is to divert attention from the fact that England is now the sixth most densely populated nation in the world, but this does not alter the fact that what Easton says regarding British natural habitats is true.

 

Enza FerreriEnza Ferreri is an Italian web author, Philosophy graduate and former journalist living in London.

Email: ehg89 at britaingallery dot com

 

 

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