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A National Nature Service

68% of Brits want a National Nature Service to address skills gap for young people and restore the natural environment
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
A portrait of a young female farmer wearing overalls, standing in an agricultural field at the farm she works at in Embleton, North East England while looking at the camera with a serious look on her face and her arms crossed

A poll released by Green New Deal Rising reveals that the majority of the British public support the introduction of a ‘National Nature Service’ to create jobs and opportunities while restoring the natural environment.

This comes after David Attenborough and a number of other groups declared that ‘nature is in crisis.’ 

‘Good green jobs’

The poll showed majority support across all ages, regions and voting groups for the introduction of a National Nature Service.

The idea is based on the successful ‘Citizen Conservation Corps’ work programme enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt following the Great Depression, which put a million people to work and planted 3 billion trees.

‘The cost of living is spiralling out of control and with economic inequality widening and the climate and nature crisis depleting our environment and causing extreme weather events, we desperately need bold action.

‘For too long, young people have been struggling with zero hours contracts, precarious contracts or getting on to the career ladder at all. The National Nature Service is a way to make meaningful improvements to our environment and deliver multiple employment and health benefits at the same time.

‘School leavers, graduates and middle-aged people should not have to put application after application into companies that are exploiting their workers and the planet. This scheme would ensure they had access to fulfilling work protecting families from sea level rise, restoring peatlands or rewilding areas of their cities.

‘That’s why we are calling on the Labour party to invest in a National Nature Service and a Green Jobs Guarantee which together can provide our country with the good green jobs we desperately need in the new economy.’

Co-director of Green New Deal Rising

Policy recommendations

Over 75% of the public support the government introducing four policies as part of a National Nature Service.

These policy areas were: the provision of a wide range of entry-level nature conservation jobs in rural and coastal communities, especially for younger and lower-income people; the provision of transferable skills to employees of the National Nature Service, so they can continue working in nature conservation; the creation of more green spaces in deprived urban communities and delivering a 25 Year Environment Plan that aims to increase woodland cover, improve clean air and clean water and create sustainable habitats for plants and animals.

Evidence for how these policies might work is already available, both abroad and in the UK.

The original Civilian Conservation Corps, the most popular of President Roosevelt’s 1930 Green New Deal policies, provided the template for modern youth-focused environmental work programmes, both at the state (the California Conservation Corps) and federal (President Biden’s proposed Civilian Climate Corps) level.

‘Restoring nature can create lots of jobs. From jobs on the land, like nature-friendly farming, woodland and wetland management, to specialised jobs like ecologists and planners, halting nature’s decline by 2030 brings a whole new economic ecosystem of opportunity.

‘More people than ever want green jobs, but there’s a huge skills gap. A National Nature Service, with a funded programme of nature projects, would open up brilliant opportunities for environmental employment in every corner of the country, it would boost the green economy, and it would kick-start the urgent action needed for nature.’

CEO of Wildlife & Countryside Link

New to Nature

Closer to home, examples of how a National Nature Service might work already exist – the most notable of which is New to Nature.

The programme has supported 95 young people from diverse, disadvantaged and disabled backgrounds into paid, year-long work placements with nature organisations across the country.

It provides a tried and tested approach to creating accessible entry-level jobs, supporting not just the protection and restoration of nature, but also helping develop a skilled green workforce, improving wellbeing among its participants and supporting local communities where the trainees work. 

‘Adapting to climate change, reducing carbon emissions and reversing the decline in biodiversity present challenges and opportunities for how we work. In many sectors of the economy this means new knowledge and a skills transition, while in some it means significant growth in capacity and the creation of whole new training and professional development frameworks.

‘A National Nature Service should be a key plank of a just transition to a green economy – not only delivering the vital work we need to do to protect and restore our natural environment but also helping those currently struggling to find work to gain the experience they need to build their career.’

Groundwork’s national CEO

Green New Deal Rising is campaigning for the Labour Party to include a National Nature Service in its election manifesto.

In recent months the group has conducted sit-outs outside Labour MPs’ offices, requesting a meeting with Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves to discuss the campaign.

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