The thoughts behind the Renegade Ecologist

From my 20 years as a nature conservationist I have learned the utter futility of trying to protect nature under our current economic system. But by making some small changes to our taxation system we could make a world fit for our children to inherit full of wildlife & prosperity for all.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root....
Henry David Thoreau
"In many ways, nature conservation has become just another method of rent extraction by landowners who are trying to hide the fact that modern farmers’ fields are essentially deserts, devoid of wildlife, and the taxpayer must pay ‘rent’ if we want wild animals to occupy ‘their land’."
Peter Smith

Land Value Tax, which is in my opinion the Holy Grail of legislative changes to protect wildlife, is the simplest expression of the Economic theories of Henry George. This theory goes that if we abolish all harmful taxes on our hard work and trade and instead charge a rent for the use of natural resources such as Land we will not waste them or allow private interests to exploit the rest of humanities access to them.

Such a tax would not only stimulate jobs and enterprise but put a value on all of our natural resources and force us to look after them. If it was implemented for agricultural land, where the lower value of perpetually designated wilderness or natural grazing land is reflected in its land value taxation, it would be the surest way to save the wildlife of the UK and for the least cost to the taxpayer”

This would mean hard to farm areas, steep banks, riverbanks, rocky outcrops and areas landowners want to designate a nature reserves, which must be legally binding, could be set aside for wildlife and as such attract no taxation. The result of this would be that unproductive and marginal land would become wildlife havens and receive long term protection for future generation to enjoy. But it would also take away land and monopolies from our plutocrats who own wealth with no obligation to the rest of society, these plutocrats fund both the red and blue (and Yellow) faction of the vested interest or ‘line my friends pocket’ parties that control the legislature in Britain.

This blog is dedicated to teaching those who love nature that there is a simple ‘magic bullet’ that can save the rare wildlife of this country at no cost to the taxpayer. This magic bullet will actually grow our economy and create jobs and help create a better society based on rewarding those who work hard while penalising idol people who make monopolies such as bankers and landowners.

The solution if adopted worldwide would alleviate poverty and starvation and make a significant contribution to preventing war and terrorism.

Follow me on twitter: @peetasmith

Views are my own and don’t reflect the views of Wildwood Trust

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Wildlife Champion Ramps House Prices & helps a system that ensures Wildlife Destruction



A certain popular wildlife Conservationist was on the BBC’s top house price ramping programme, ‘Escape to the Country’ this week. The Wildwood Trust attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year, keen to experience the many animals it protects, such as these very cute baby beaver and rescued dormice which were featured on the programme.

Clip from the BBC 'Escape to the Country'

This programme shows very well how property prices are affected by the community that surrounds the houses. The infamous phrase; LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION tells us the largest part of a ‘property’s price’ is the location value, i.e. that which is created by the whole community.

Now that means that, with all probability,  the popular tourist destination and conservation charity Wildwood Trust is adding many thousands, if not millions, of pounds to the land prices of the houses & businesses in the area, these landowners (free-loaders) have enjoyed this increase in their wealth without lifting a finger, and without taxation (let’s call this cheating).

Wildwood Trust, as a charity, pays no corporation tax, but then who does these days as most large corporations avoid it? But Wildwood does pay more than 20% of its income in VAT and employment taxes (you also have to factor in all the taxes already paid on the goods and services used by Wildwood). The hundreds of volunteers and staff who have laboured hard over the years to make Wildwood Trust a success have all had to pay taxes on the materials bought to enhance the park & on the (very low) wages of the staff, who work tirelessly in all weathers.

We have a massive agricultural subsidy system and a myriad of special tax breaks and dodges that keep land prices high; on top of the work the whole community does, which is distilled into those high land prices. High land prices prevent people who want to reintroduce beavers, dormice or all the other creatures of Britain from protecting land for them to live on.  Marginal land is subsidised and uneconomically brought into production;  even rare woodlands and wetlands are hoarded by property speculators in the hope of one day becoming instant millionaires if they are allowed to build a house upon the land. Each year a range of charities spend hundreds of millions of pounds on purchasing land, a massive waste of charitable donations.

High land prices act as not only a ‘private tax’ on all wildlife land but on all the people and their business activity. This system of private taxation robs us all of the fruits of our labour, whether it be a wildlife charity, city banker or supermarket checkout single mum. Even our system of welfare payments and housing benefit end up being handed over to the landowners in one way or another

Our system of taxing real work, and not taxing land and natural resources, means the more successful Wildwood Trust is in attracting people to is conservation park & the better its boss is at getting his mug on the telly means they are playing a role in preventing wildlife protection in general, as the land around the park increases in price, some of that land the Wildwood Trust wishes to purchase to further its charitable cause.

We can stop this mad system by shifting taxation off earned income and onto the exclusive ownership of natural monopolies, the biggest one being land. Such a change will make marginal land economically worthless and return it to extensive farming or wildlife land, giving a home to the beavers, dormice and fast disappearing wildlife. Such a change would also mean all business activity, not involved in cheating, will be free from taxation making our economy stronger and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Other benefits including reducing pollution, global warming, community disenfranchisement, crime, etc etc.

For further information watch 'The Killing Fields' - a documentary exploring wildlife conservation and taxation: