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

Friday, 9 March 2012


Wildlife group’s proposal for land tax reform backed by Oscar winning actress
 By Chris Murphy

BACK TO NATURE: Actress Vanessa Redgrave (left) will be appearing at a showing of the Wildwood Trust’s The Killing Fields featuring its chief executive Peter Smith (above)

A SEISMIC change in the way land around the world is taxed could save many of our threatened species, claims a wildlife organisation that has the backing of actress Vanessa Redgrave and her son who has made a film on the issue.

Oscar winner Redgrave is backing Wildwood, near Canterbury, because she wants to save the world’s natural resources before they are completely plundered for profit.

As the Unicef Goodwill Ambassador she launched the Brighton Festival with a special screening of Wildwood’s new documentary, The Killing Fields. It was shown to an audience of more than 1,000 of the biggest names in theatre and arts in the hope of stirring up more support for its aims.

Wildwood Trust’s vision is to restore Britain’s land to its natural state. This involves re leasing large wild herbivores and developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife again.

After the screening, writer and broadcaster Polly Toynbee moderated a discussion about the issues raised by the film. Wildwood Trust chief executive Peter Smith said the film struck a chord with the audience and is determined to drive his message home attending another major screening in Brighton, at the town’s Dome Theatre on May 6th

Ms Redgrave will be there, along with her director son Carlo Nero, who made the film.
It will be followed by another discussion on the land tax changes Mr Smith proposes.
Joining them will be the debate chairman Professor Sir Richard Jolly from the United Nations and Unesco, along with contributors to the film including economist Fred Harrison, environmental lawyer Polly Higgins, and farmer and land owner Dr Duncan Pickard.

The Killing Fields documentary explores the fragile relationship between wildlife, land, taxation and law in Britain and Europe.

Mr Smith said it makes a powerful case for sweeping reforms and  argues the only long-term solution to our conservation crisis is to put real value on nature’s assets.

He said: Winston Churchill was a fan of the land value tax, but it was voted out by the House of Lords because they realised it was them who would suffer the most.

 “A land tax would replace income tax. This means anyone who owned land would have to make the absolutely most of it to ensure they could afford it.

“Derelict buildings would be developed and my favourite part, farmers would stop trying to farm impossibly difficult land and that would be allowed to return to nature. If this happened around the world, it would save huge areas of land for nature.”