This project is one of a series on the natural environment aimed at providing Defra with an evidence base and enabling a more strategic approach to be developed as part of the programme under the Sustainable Development Strategy towards Natural Resource Protection and Environmental Enhancement. This particular project will review the social, economic and environmental impacts of Defra`s and its delivery agents` policy framework to deliver the Natural Resource Protection programme. It will also review the interactions with policies of other Government departments in respect of effects on natural resources. The outcomes of the project will be a strategic overview of the strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative impacts and missing areas in the policy framework. It will also assess whether the framework is sufficiently robust to cope with changes in pressures and approaches to the natural environment in the future. Crucially, it will assess how well this framework can deliver the UK Vision for Natural Resource Protection.
The natural environment comprises natural materials essential to humans, such as water, air, land, trees, animals, plants, soil, and minerals. Some are replaceable; others are not. Trees and fish are renewable resources and can be replaced. Nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels are not replaceable within a human timeframe once they have been used. The project will focus on the following natural resources: biodiversity (including habitats and ecosystems); water quality, supply and demand; the marine environment; the soil environment; landscapes; air quality; recreation and access to the natural environment.
It is essential to protect and enhance natural resources at the local, national and international level. Value can be attributed to natural resources; natural resources have inspired and influenced our culture, art and literature. We, therefore, need to ensure policies are consistent in seeking to protect and enhance these natural resources. This is reflected in Defra`s Five Year Strategy, the associated PSA1 target to `promote and enhance sustainable development across government and in the UK and internationally....` and the UK`s Sustainable Development Strategy. This builds on the Government’s commitments at the World Summit for Sustainable Development and obligations under the 6th Environmental Action Plan that firmly places sustainable development and the integration of environmental considerations into economic and sectoral decisions and associated policies.