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Exeter research influences Government blueprint for environment

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The University of Exeter’s research helped shape a 25-year strategy to improve the UK’s landscapes and habitats. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of this plan to ensure a “cleaner, greener country for all” in an 11 January speech.

The Government report linked to the Prime Minister’s speech, called ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’, cites several University of Exeter research projects.

The report made two separate citations, including Exeter’s world-class research into the complex connections between nature and wellbeing, conducted by the University’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH), part of the Medical School. It mentioned a study led by Dr Matthew White from the Medical School which showed “visits to the natural environment were associated with an estimated 109,164 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) with an annual value of £2.2 billion.”

OUr research has demonstrated the multiple benefits that accrue from beaver reintroduction

The Prime Minister went on to describe plastic waste as “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”, a sentiment that Exeter marine pollution experts Professor Tamara Galloway and Dr Ceri Lewis agree with. Professor Galloway previously gave evidence to the Government’s Environment Audit Committee and delivered a high-level presentation at the United Nations headquarters in America outlining the effect microplastics have on the ocean environments. And after the Prime Minister’s speech, Dr Lewis said: “we are very glad to hear that it is now a top government priority to put in measures to reduce the use of single use plastic more widely. We urgently need to change the way in which we use this material as a society.”

The Prime Minister even referred to successfully implemented schemes like the reintroduction of beavers “to help reduce the risk of flooding and enhance biodiversity.” Professor Richard Brazier, a hydrologist at the University of Exeter, who has been leading research on natural solutions to flooding – including the use of beavers – says: “our research has demonstrated the multiple benefits that accrue from beaver reintroduction, including flood attenuation and water-quality improvements.”

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