Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Benn launches audit of natural resources
A wide-ranging audit of England's natural resources - its wildlife, habitats and ecosystems - was today launched by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.
The two year project will result in the most comprehensive picture ever of our natural environment, the benefits it provides to society, and how it is changing.
Using the expertise of people from a wide variety of organisations, it will draw together all the information and research currently collected, and seek to fill in some of the gaps.
The results will be used by Government to prioritise work so that the natural environment is enhanced and damage to it, including biodiversity loss, is effectively tackled.
Hilary Benn said:
"This project will give us a clearer picture of our natural resources than ever before. It will show us just how much we benefit from our natural environment.
"And in turn it will provide a springboard for further action to protect and enhance our natural heritage"
Hilary Benn announced the audit at his first keynote speech on the natural environment, at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, London today.
Mr Benn also used his speech to underline the positive impact of the environment on people's health, well being and prosperity.
He highlighted the importance of ensuring that people were not excluded from access to nature and stressed that where people had problems with access "we must bring the country to the city" by ensuring that people could enjoy urban green spaces.
He stressed that this could only be achieved through working together with a wide range of partners including Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency.
Mr Benn also today confirmed that Natural England will from 2010 enhance the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme to cover upland areas.
Notes to Editors
1. Further details of the 2010 changes to Entry Level Stewardship are available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/uplands/support.htm
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