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, 25 April 2015

Wilder Scotland - what are the real issues?

Click on the link below to hear (very poor skype audio) of an interview I did yesterday on the Lynx reintroduction and the complex issues that surround it with the very talented Shelley Milne. Poor Shelley got a lot more than she thought as I bombarded her some some of the deep economic issue that provide a context to the problems that surround lynx reintroduction and rewilding in general. As ever the real solution is to Tax land Values.....

REWILDING INTERVIEW: PETER SMITH, WILDWOOD TRUST.
APRIL 24, 2015

This morning, I was privileged to undertake a skype interview, with Mr Peter Smith, Scientist, Conservationist and CEO of the Wildwood Trust, a Kent based Charitable Organisation, which has been instrumental in many captive breeding and wildlife reintroduction projects including the Konig Horse, Beaver and Wild Boar.

His passion for the subjects of rewilding and land reform is clearly evident and he raises some very interesting points which create a greater economic and political context into this complex subject. In order to ensure his perspective remains contextually intact, I would like to share with you his perspective, as he sheds light on some of the challenges these projects face and providing deeper insight on the potential release of wild lynx in the UK

WilderScotland Blog

Link to Audio of my interview:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Battle for Wildlife: The Flood 1, 'Sea Walls'

The battle between landowners and wildlife has raged on many 'battlefields' across the world. I hope to comment on examples in the coming years.

I made this video some time ago but just got around to publishing it exploring two issues very important to the Thames Estuary - the first part explains some of the issues of coastal sea walls and how landowners have sought to profit from the increase value of the land from such public infrastructure.

Of course the uplift in value of the the land behind a sea wall is captured by the landowner and not the taxpayer who funded the sea wall. This is grossly unfair on taxpayers across the country as money is funnelled from all taxpayers into the pockets of landowners who often pay no tax on that huge uplift in the value of their land. Simply charging a Land Value Tax would capture this unearned uplift in the value of the land and repay the taxpayer for its construction.

But in many situations the sea wall is not needed to protect people's lives and jobs  but the perverse incentive to build sea walls will mean landowners will lobby for them very hard. That incentive means we loose so much of our coastal habitat such as Salt Marsh which is the habitat we have lost the most in the Uk over the last 100 years. When these perverse economic incentives exist there is little wonder then that is where we see wildlife and nature lose out the most. A land value tax will remove the perverse incentive to destroy wildlife in many situations, not just coastal sea defences and help us restore nature back to our country. At the same time we will save the taxpayer a packet on schemes that are uneconomic and not needed.

In part two I will explore how rewilding our coastal salt marshes could save London from flooding and the taxpayer the cost of an expensive new Thames Barrier.....

Peter Smith, CEO of the Wildwood Trust argues that we need a better way to fund coastal flood defences. The taxpayer pays millions every year, not for protecting homes, but just for the benefit of a few farmers and land spectaculars. This process has decimated coastal wildlife and in many cases proved of little public benefit. The people who have made a fortune should repay this increase in the rental value of their land back to the taxpayers who funded the flood defences. This would help ensure we only invest in flood defences where we need it and stop the destruction of some of the UK's most threatened wildlife habitats. The public collection of the nations rents will mean everyone contributes their fair share, making the use of natural resources more efficient helping our endangered wildlife to return.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-mQ9_H-vEk

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Economically Necessary Beaver...

My talk last week at the Necessary Beaver Conference on Scotland

Beavers and Ecosystem Services & a plan for Scotland’s Ecological Renaissance, with the help of Robert Burns…..?

The study of ecology and economics has resulted in a growing interest in the economics of nature which has been shown in sharp relief by the arrival of the Tay beavers. Peter Smith will take you on a quick journey into the emerging world of environmental economics and ecosystem services– where many of the benefits go unrecognised and much of the cash costs cause fear and opposition to the return of wildlife

Beavers make a big difference to our rivers and this means there are winners and losers. There are many obvious and subtle benefits to beavers living in our water ways once again: wildlife, water quality and the buffering of floods & droughts, carbon sequestration are the most obvious, . But how can we measure these benefits, what are the leading scientists and economists thinking when it comes to putting monetary value on these benefits

A proper compensation strategy, based in land values & taxation, could be the Solution to the whole problem of protecting nature and stimulating human progress, by getting to the very economic roots of the problem– we can see how simple economic steps, such as Land Value Tax & Green taxes, can efficiently and effectively internalise the costs and benefits of Scotland’s Ecological Renaissance by following the forgotten advice of Scotland’s Greatest minds including, Adam Smith, William Ogilvie & even Robert Burns himself!