Nature should be seen as a valuable business asset according to the Wild Anglia Manifesto.
The new local nature partnership says the RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen alone pulls in 31,000 visitors a year who spend £810,000, while its larger and more established reserves at Minsmere and Titchwell bring in £8 million and £10.4 million respectively.
In addition, our forests are worth £1 billion a year, though the manifesto says of 90,000 hectares, 41,000 are not actively managed, so it will support a woodland working group.
The manifesto, launched on Wednesday, also highlights the health benefits of the countryside, encouraging people to exercise, and calls nature East Anglia’s ‘unique selling point’.
It adds: “Nature is already an established part of our economy in Norfolk and Suffolk. Nature stimulates local economic activity, attracts investment and creates jobs.”
Wild Anglia’s chairman Richard Powell said: “In its role as a Local Nature Partnership, Wild Anglia has been charge with finding solutions that are right for Norfolk and Suffolk.
“It will challenge and support, and it will create opportunities for policy, for different thinking and for excellence.”
He added: “We need to see that enhancing the environment also enhances the economy, and recognise that nature is not just something that stands in the way of development.”
The manifesto pledges support for existing projects, like the Fens for the Future Consortium and Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscape, as well as encouraging investment in nature.
The full manifesto is at www.wildanglia.org