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A series of blogs to highlight environmental practises and sustainability for World Environment Day 2017.


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Dougal Driver FICFor CEnv shares his thoughts for World Environment Day

Posted By Phil Underwood, 06 June 2017
Updated: 06 June 2017

Blog Provided by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF): 

A blog by Dougal Driver FICFor CEnv - a Fellow of ICF. The blog below is based on his thought provoking speech at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) on 5th June 2017 at the Society for the Environment’s World Environment Day Conference.


In the 1840s, a young Karl Marx pre-empted his later and more famous theories with an erudite description of how man was becoming disconnected from his place in nature. His observations were later backed up by Engels and Bacon and more recently in 1987, by Norman Moore in his book ‘The Bird of Time’.

I propose that the lack of integration of man in nature, is far worse now than it was in their days. Yes, we have numerous studies and clear scientific evidence about endless facets of the environment, but I feel that we do most, if not all, of this thinking from a preternatural position or ‘outside of nature’.

Image: Dougal Driver FICFor CEnv speaking at the World Environment Day Conference. 

This arms-length position results in an approach whereby we regard our actions as affecting nature as if mankind was not part of nature. This leads to policies and decisions couched in the language of externality such as saving ‘it’, protecting ‘it’ and even divesting ourselves of ‘it’ whilst we focus on other more pressing things such as the economy. What we fail to grasp as warned by Marx and others, is that we are part of ‘it’.

I am sure that many involved in ‘the environment ‘ would dispute the disconnect I describe and see it is blindly obvious that we are part of nature, however, I believe a social ‘norm’ has developed around man’s reaction and action with regard to the environment. A norm that is now so deeply entrenched and sophisticated, that a radical rethink is needed. It has never been enough to just know we are part of nature, we need to act at all times, as if we are part of nature and not it’s architect or guardian.

I risk the cry of ‘hypocrite’ as I introduce this new term to help animate my proposal, because I also believe that we need to look closely at other terms that we have developed around the environment and change our language if we are serious about influencing others to act. Terms such as, making space for nature, ecosystem services, natural capital and sustainable intensification to name but a few.

These terms are well meant but are either impenetrable for everybody outside of the bubble (and many in it!) and/or they reinforce the fallacy that we are outside nature and therefore get goods from it or need to provide a refuge for it.

So what, I hear some say, well, semantics and language, studies and theories can lead to decisions and polices. Take the example of the London City Region which is set to grow by 8 Birmingham’s by 2042 according to AECOMs recent 2065 study (see Ref1).

AECOM observe that London has to go mainly out. There is however a complex barrier of Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks, a scenario reflected in many UK towns, cities and regions. Their report refers to the green belt as toxic and how a better approach would be to have uninterrupted fan shaped spikes of growth spreading out from the city with new and expanded environmental areas. This is a huge challenge to entrenched policies and strategic planners, but I would go much, much further.

Reflecting my view that we should act as part of nature, I believe the accommodation of growth should be fully integrated into the environment. Growth should not be about grey corridors and settlements with reserves amongst them, but should be fully integrated with light and shade to the intensity and density so that there are always wins for man and nature.

Of course our truly wild and unique places should be left well alone by growth but the disconnected, species poor unresilient ‘middle’ ground, well that can be enhanced for all. Every house and every mile of infrastructure should come with associated integrated natural enhancement, cheek by jowl and a win win for all facets of nature including man.

Of course it is not straightforward and it is not what we currently do, but, if we use our instinct and act as we are, an integrated part of nature, then anything is possible because, ultimately, it is who we are.


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Chartered Foresters or the Society for the Environment. 

Tags:  CEnv  Conference  ICF  Speaker  World Environment Day 

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How Lockhart Garratt is Connecting with Nature

Posted By Phil Underwood, 05 June 2017
Updated: 06 June 2017

Blog Provided by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF): 

Chartered Forester Justin Mumford FICFor CEnv a Fellow of the Institute, Managing Director at Lockhart Garratt, tells us how Lockhart Garratt is connecting with nature.

The two assumptions that people always make when you tell them that you’re a forester are a) that you work for the Forestry Commission and b) you’re very environmentally friendly.  The disappointment on their faces is palatable when you answer the first assumption with a ‘no’ and the second with an ‘only sometimes’.  In recent years, however, it’s become much more than just an assumption, it’s become a necessity driven by both our clients, future clients and also by our staff and future recruits.

When we updated our three-year rolling Business Plan, back in the summer of 2015, one of its main objectives caught the attention and excitement of the whole company; to “promote sustainable development and work to protect, improve and enhance the natural environment”.

This is very much easier said than done, so we have subsequently broken this down into reducing our carbon footprint, influencing policy at national and local level, and maintaining and promoting the company culture of taking the right environmental decisions.  This has gone down well with many of our clients, particularly the larger development clients, some of whom are insisting that we take it a step further and become ISO 14001 accredited which I can see getting into the next Business Plan. In the meantime, it’s been encouraging to see how lots of little steps are starting to add up.  Some of these quite subtle.

As a company, one of our biggest polluters is the fleet of cars (mostly diesel, no electric) parked outside the office.  I estimate that, as a company, we probably travel 200,000 miles a year, which would be well on the way to getting out of Earth’s inner atmosphere and almost to the moon.  One of the big culprits of clocking up the miles is travelling long distances to see clients or between our offices in Corby and Chipping Norton.  The purchase of two, wide-screen televisions for the respective meeting rooms has allowed us to Skype each other and clients and has made a massive difference; not only reducing miles travelled but also clawing back all the ‘dead time’ sat in the roadworks just outside Towcester.

Although both our offices are probably less than 30 years’ old, it’s amazing how inefficient they are, both in terms of keeping warm during the winter and cool in the summer, and how much modern architecture has come on since then producing much more energy efficient buildings.  One of our Board has been appointed the ‘Green Champion’ to look at ways of improving matters and we are already seeing how changes in lightbulbs and hot water systems are reducing our electricity bills and carbon footprint.  Building efficiency is also something that is testing many of the land agents who we work alongside as they endeavour to bring their aging, rented property portfolio up to date and are racing against time to meet the new, legal requirement of a minimum rating under the Energy Performance Certificate of at least ‘E’ by April 2018.  Failure to do so will trigger the penalty of up to a whopping £4,000!  Of course we always recommend using more wood as a fuel.

Planting.Image: Forestry Commission Scotland.

The biggest change that we can make is to encourage our clients to undertake more tree planting and manage their woodlands.  This can be difficult in the East Midlands and East Anglia where the alternative arable land use governs a premium.  However, through careful assessment of the holding, identification of less productive areas of land or identifying opportunities to connect existing woods (particularly if it has other benefits for shooting enterprises or the landscape) can allow for an informed decision to be made and is all that’s required to persuade more trees to go in the ground, albeit on a modest scale.  Once again, little steps soon add up.  Everything came together only last week when I was invited to help with a new woodland creation project  for a potential new client who had made his money from energy-efficient light bulbs! It was a real light bulb moment.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Chartered Foresters or the Society for the Environment. 

Tags:  Chartered Environmentalist  Chartered Forester  ICF  World Environment Day 

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