The UK government’s environment improvement plan pledges to restore 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of wildlife-rich habitat, create or expand 25 national parks, invest in the recovery of hedgehogs and red squirrels, tackle rising sewage pollution and improve access to green spaces in England over the next five years.
The government has described the plan as an “ambitious road map” to a cleaner, greener country. Some of the targets certainly are ambitious. For example, the plan aims to bring 40% of farmland soils into sustainable management by 2028.
This would be a monumental shift in how soil is cared for in England. Intensive agriculture has slashed the amount of carbon soils store by 60% and put 6 million hectares across England and Wales at risk of erosion or compaction, costing an estimated £1.2 billion a year.
But the plan doesn’t actually explain how sustainable management will be expanded. The only action proposed is to create a “baseline map” of soil health in England by 2028.