Poul Christensen, Chair, Natural England delivered a speech on the final day of the conference.
In his speech, Poul shared views on the localism agenda and other related agendas and remarked that there are lots of changes coming ahead. He spoke about ‘growth and development’ and that our natural environment is under threat more than ever before.
Natural England acknowledges and praises the role of AONBs and wider protected landscapes. Poul remarked that AONBs deliver a phenomenal amount through a very small resource and this was delivered with passion and in partnership.
Poul went on to expand on the Natural Environment White Paper stating that it provides an opportunity and a new way of looking at things. Aspirations set out in the White Paper are something we would all want to sign up too; with a landscape approach to the natural environment at its heart.
Poul continued on the subject of the future of funding and the need to find innovative ways with funding. He remarked for example, that businesses are becoming aware of the natural environment; and how they themselves can become more sustainable.
Poul discussed big society and localism and how AONBs are well placed to shape the landscape of the future along with enabling and empowering local people to be part of discussion about future landscapes.
Near to the end of Poul’s speech, he commented that ‘We are really on finite resources. Where are we going to go when our resources run out?’
There are challenges ahead, Poul went on to say, and it’s inevitable that local and national priorities will collide from time to time. He ended his speech with three questions:
- What role can AONBs play in the future?
- What role can AONBs play in providing broad refuges for wildlife?
- What role would you like to see Natural England play?