England is not as green or pleasant as it should be. An astounding 41 per cent of native species on our island are in decline, and 15 per cent face extinction today as their habitats shrink or become entirely wrecked by unsustainable practices.
With the UN meeting in Montreal this week to attempt to halt the global decline of nature, we need to look at new ways at home to revive our once-thriving countryside.
Because if we can't protect vulnerable species like hedgehogs, how can we persuade other nations to act to end practices that threaten majestic animals like elephants or orangutans?
Our food security relies on nature. Without biodiversity-rich soils, farmers need to buy more fertiliser. The decline of pollinators like bees also makes British farming less productive than it should be - putting food prices up.
But it also helps our own well-being. Spending time around nature aids people's physical and mental health, giving us a place to escape our busy lives and noisy towns and cities. Sadly, too few of us live near bountiful and beautiful green spaces.
That's why I am attempting to change the law to create a 'wildbelt' near where people live. Under my proposal, your local council could legally designate land specifically for restoring biodiversity and landscapes like meadows and woodland. With areas protected for nature restoration, we can target government funds to revive the land.
Existing designations like the green belt or national parks haven't protected nature. Yes, they have prevented endless urban sprawl, keeping our communities green and preserving beautiful places for people to explore, but wildlife has still declined in these areas.
We need this new status to halt nature's decline and ensure everyone can access vibrant landscapes packed with wildlife. Without it, we will not meet our goal to protect and manage 30 per cent of our land for nature by 2030.
Currently, only 5 per cent of our land is managed by nature and in good condition. Creating a new wildbelt designation is our opportunity to change that - ensuring England is green and pleasant for generations to come.
First published by the Daily Express. David Simmonds MP (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) is a member of the Conservative Environment Network.