There was a mixed response last week to the Government?s publication of The Natural Choice, the first White Paper on the natural environment in 20 years.

Among new initiatives announced in the White Paper are Local Nature Partnerships, which will be formed to strengthen joined-up action across local agencies and organisations, and the Natural Capital Committee, an independent body that will report to the Government?s economic affairs committee.

While the Countryside Alliance welcomed the focus on outdoor education, its Chief executive, Alice Barnard, described it as a ?missed opportunity?.

She said: ?Rather than trying to create a new set of bodies to administer the natural environment, the Government should be investing in the people who do so much to keep the countryside the special place it is.

?Rural communities undertake hundreds of millions of pounds? worth of unpaid conservation work each year for the benefit of all and the Government shouldmake it a priority to support them in this role.?

The Moorland Association was more positive and said it believed that the document offered a genuine opportunity to achieve the Association?s aim to regenerate 250,000 acres of lost heather moorland.

The Association?s secretary, Martin Gillibrand, welcomed a commitment to create a series of Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) comprising 12 wildlife sanctuaries that will focus on restoring the natural habitats of rare plants and threatened creatures.

He said: ?We want at least one of the 12 projects to be a moorland regeneration project. From its demonstrated success, we will ensure the Government rolls this out across the north of England. It is a fantastic opportunity to give back to local people lost icons of the moors such as the curlew and lapwing, and build sustainable green economies through integrated moorland management.?

The rest of this article appears in 15th June issue of Shooting Times.

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