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

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Beaver, Rewilding & Land Value Tax have the answer to the UK's Flooding Problem.

Interesting the solution to the problems of flooding is the same for many of the problems facing Britain in the economic, housing and environmental crisis: Tax land values. This is because marginal farmland which is only farmed because of enormous taxpayer subsidies, and produces little food, will come out of production and can revert to flood plain and naturally water absorbing wild land - saving us from the flooding

My press release on these issues of flooding:

Beaver & Rewilding have the answer to the UK's Flooding Problem.

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Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Chief Executive said:

“It took the death of school children in a catastrophic flood event to shock the Dutch authorities to really tackle flooding on the Rhine; one of their answers was to stop farming on flood plain and to create a giant natural wetland, managed by wild horses, to prevent this tragedy from happening again.”
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 A beaver created wetlands absorbing floodwaters
 Beaver - make lovely wetland possible by digging into river banks and creating marshland and beaver pools






As rivers across the UK are bursting their banks, another media storm has broken over  who is responsible. Many farmers have come out attacking the lack of drainage and flood defences along rivers. But river scientists and ecological experts are pointing out that there is a deeper problem in our river catchments, which means putting in flood defence and dredging rivers could end up in catastrophic flooding further downstream, and a tragedy could unfold that could threaten human life.

Changes in farming and land use now means there is little flood plain left along our rivers, so there is nowhere for the water to go, this combined with a massive increase of drainage of farmland in river catchments means water now gushes off land into the rivers.

One of the best and cheapest answers is to reintroduce natural wetland species such as European beaver and wild horses to the UK and allow the natural restoration of nature's own flood defences like the initiatives currently run by the Wildwood Trust near Canterbury.

Peter Smith with a baby beaver, born at Wildwood Trust, destined to be part of a reintroduction later this year

The wetlands of Britain used to act as a giant sponge, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into our rivers, protecting us from catastrophic flooding.

In recent times we have spent an increasing amount of money to destroy our wetlands, to build and maintain a massive system of drains at the taxpayer's expense. The cruel irony is that 'flood defences' only make the problem worse further down the river. Planning has also encouraged the building of more and more housing on flood plains which then in turn need to be defended from inevitable flooding.

Successive Governments have channelled hundreds of millions of pounds of tax payers' money every year into agricultural subsidies and 'drainage' works that are directly responsible for the catastrophic flooding seen over the last few weeks.

Wildwood’s  five point plan to save the taxpayer money and prevent catastrophic flooding in our towns & villages:

1. Rewild marginal farmland, uplands and floodplain. Just as many European countries have seen catastrophic flooding they have rewilded areas that act a giant sponges soaking up flood waters

2. Stop agricultural subsidy of marginal farmland so it can be returned to the wild & save the taxpayer Billions of pounds

3. Return Beavers and use natural wetland managers like wild horses to maintain our wetlands at no cost to taxpayers

4. Create natural wetland network in urban areas to act as flood stores

5. Shift taxes off of earned incomes and onto Land Values and natural resources to make it economically feasible to revert marginal farmland back to natural areas.


Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Chief Executive said:

“Along the Rhine in the  Netherlands and  Germany  they have already addressed this issue by  re-creating wetlands, while at the same time providing safety for homes and communities."

“It took the death of school children in a catastrophic flood event to shock the Dutch authorities to really tackle flooding on the Rhine; one of their answers was to stop farming on flood plain and to create a giant natural wetland, managed by wild horses, to prevent this tragedy from happening again.”

One of Wildwood Trust's Wild Horses helping manage wetlands in Kent
“When will Britain wake up and see that we need to tackle the root cause of the flooding problem and stop the squabbling by selfish vested interest only interested in getting  the benefit of ever more taxpayers money or campaigning for flood waters to be rushed on further downstream to flood someone else’s house.”

"We have created a perverse system of agricultural subsidies and drainage systems that guarantee we will see flooding getting worse, and that system is using taxpayers’ money to destroy wildlife and the wild places that have been our natural flood defence system.”

“With no wetlands, trees or undeveloped flood plains to stop this water, it rushes off fields into drainage systems, maintained at the taxpayers’ expense, and is funnelled into rivers where it creates the devastating problems witnessed this winter.”

“We must stop wasting money on drainage schemes, agricultural subsidies and building in flood plains but rather spend, far less,  taxpayers money on re-establishing natural wetlands.”

“This can be achieved for a fraction of cost that taxpayers are already incurring, save us billions in the future and will create a carbon sink to help neutralise climate change and give our future generations a natural heritage to be proud of.”
This video shows the Belford Flood alleviation Scheme - which is spending large amounts of taxpayers money on an innovative scheme which is artificially creating beaver pools and beaver like structure, The question has to be asked why not let beavers do it for free!