Uplands, National Parks & Climate Change: Supporting Nature for the Many

SERA - Labour's Environment Campaign with RSPB

LOCATION The Dome Room, Hotel du Vin, Ship St, Brighton, BN1 1AD (A four minute walk from the conference centre)
DATE Monday 23 September
TIME 12:45 - 14:00

Refreshments provided

*This event takes place outside the secure zone, and is therefore accessible to all, including those without a conference pass*



  • Chair - Daniel Zeichner MP, SERA Exec member
  • Sue Hayman MP - Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Hilary Benn MP - Chair, Exiting the EU Select Committee
  • Helen Goodman MP - Shadow Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Minister
  • Beccy Speight - Chief Executive, RSPB
  • Neil Heseltine, Uplands Farmer 

This year marks 70 years since the Labour Government led by Clement Attlee signed off on the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which facilitated the enhancement, protection and public enjoyment of “those extensive tracts of country in England and Wales” designed “by reason of their natural beauty and the opportunities they afford for open-air recreation”.

The act not only led to the creation of national parks but access agreements to privately owned areas of the country, allowing working people to enjoy their country’s areas of natural beauty. However, National Parks are not just for the benefit of humans. Uplands gather more than 70% of our drinking water, store billions of tones of carbon in peat and soils and are home to some of our most special wildlife.

This panel discussion will cover the 70th anniversary of the national parks act and the importance of uplands for nature and the environment, including how uplands can help the UK fight against climate change if protected.

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  • John Draper
    commented 2019-09-21 09:35:10 +0100
    As a member of the XR Science Group and Labour SERA, this is a proposed global ‘Call’ that Labour should be backing: “Call for a High-Level Global Commission on Urgent Action for Afforestation, Forest Conservation, and Reforestation by the End of 2020”:

    (This Call is for an independent global commission along the lines of the newly established global high-level Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency, due to deliver new global policies by mid-2020 (https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2019/july/iea-unveils-global-high-level-commission-for-urgent-action-on-energy-efficiency.html).

    1. This Call recognizes the importance of forests to life on this planet, including in the form of providing habitats for biodiversity, homes for humans, carbon capture for mitigating the climate crisis, and oxygen for the planet. It further notes that the Anthropocene Extinction, the sixth mass extinction event on this planet, is under way and that 25% of animal and plant species, as well as human life, are at risk.
    2. This Call acknowledges the complexity of human interactions with forests on issues like exploitation of forests and community forestry as practised by forest peoples as part of their human rights, and notes their origin in cultural practices. It endorses the need for forest policy to recognize these socio-economic and socio-ecological interactions and to be based on unbiased and policy-relevant scientifically sound forest research. This research should promote both carbon capture and biodiversity, with special regard to prioritising the conservation and plantation of diverse, native forests over the plantation of monocultures and to avoiding forest plantation at the expense of other, similar carbon capturing ecosystems, such as grasslands.
    3. This Call notes the present actions under way to combat this threat, including the United Nations designating 2011–2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity and 2021-2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This Call notes that these actions are rooted in the Rio Conventions:
    i) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
    ii) The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
    iii) The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
    4. This Call urges governments to support the present commitments, specifically, the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Paris Agreement (UNFCCC), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as implemented in the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (CBD), and the 2018-2030 Strategic Framework on achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and combating Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) (UNCCD).
    5. This Call notes the 2050 UN vision of “Living in harmony with nature”, which envisages that “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people” (CBD) and the UN commitment to “combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements, in the framework of an integrated approach which is consistent with Agenda 21, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas” (UNCCD).
    6. This Call urges action in accelerating the 2050 UN vision to an earlier deadline and endorses an independent, high-level, global Commission tasked with this objective.
    7. This Call notes the importance of the Global South to this vision, through mechanisms such as “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Developing Countries” (REDD+) (UNFCCC) and Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
    8. This Call notes the importance of national government policies to support mechanisms like REDD+, but also the importance of funding, via mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund, the cornerstone of ‘climate finance’, to which only USD $5.2 billion has been committed of the approximately USD 100 billion required per year to finance the Paris Agreement.
    9. This Call notes the existence of other, interrelated ‘urgent action’ actions and calls, including the newly established global high-level Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency and the Call for Urgent Action on Accelerating Fusion Energy, the latter of which could partially fund the Green Climate Fund through Global South co-development and co-ownership of patents and corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the part of successful fusion energy projects.
    10. Working towards the goals outlined in this Call has already started. Support for a Commission by UN member nations, and especially by the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Group of 77, as well as by international, regional, and national NGOs working on afforestation, forestry, and deforestation, such as NASA, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the European Forest Institute, should be encouraged.
  • Peter Crispin
    commented 2019-09-17 09:42:49 +0100
    The RSPB has consistently opposed the capping agenda of the subsidies of the 1% and helped thwart the best option for reforming the CAP in 2013 when the UK vetoed EU Commission proposals for a limit of a mere 300,000 pound limit per claimant. The Puffin is threatened by extinction with current proposals framed at 2050 when the Arctic will have been ice free for a decade. Maybe the RSPB could explain given its opposition to previous reforms focused on environmental justice and its failure to incorporate “land rights” in its perspectives of land reform re environmental subsidy and how it can support the concept of "acceptable warming re 1.5C given the range of impacts already visible on “Birds”.

    Can I be clear that as current demands are focused on decarbonisation by 2050 that this is totally inadequate ? The North Pole is ice free by 2040 and therefore a whole range of unparalleled and un planned “feed back loops” from Arctic methane and potentially oceanic nitrous oxides will be accelerating “Global Heating”. The ecology is clear as further signaled by coral reef bleaching that first occurred in 1997 and libraries of other evidence that we have “over shot” by over 20 years and that the notion of “Acceptable Warming ie 1.5/2C” is gravely complacent.

    To “Save the Future” by 2050 we need to not only have decarbonised but have C02 returning rapidly to 350ppm; this requires a further UN track whereby countries address their ecological and industrial debts certainly post 1992 and maybe post 1800. The notion of “climate mitigation” is clearly inadequate; we have to address the fact that CO2 need to be returned from the atmosphere. that

    The Precautionary Principle indicates that CO2 levels have to be returned to below 350ppm at which “ecological stress” indicators such as coral reef bleaching, ocean and soil acidification, polar and montane glacial ice melt was limited.

    I urge clarity.