DEFRA has urged people to get involved in a debate about protecting and enhancing the natural environment.

The department has pledged to publish a “bold and ambitious” White Paper on the natural environment by spring 2011.

But ahead of this it wants all interested parties to have a say about what the priorities should be.

It launched a discussion document on Monday (26 July) which asks questions about which policies aimed at protecting England’s natural assets work most effectively.

It also asks which ones work less well and could be stopped.

When it comes to managing land there was a need to be “thinking big and joining up”, said the document.

“We know that land provides us with multiple benefits. For example, agriculture is the major land use in England, covering around 70% of our country,” it said.

“But farmed land does not simply provide us with food and other crops, important as those things are, but also with rural jobs, places for wildlife to thrive and people to enjoy nature.

“We know that we need to secure a sustainable food economy to support an increasing global population but that food economy must allow a healthy natural environment to continue providing the wider benefits and services it gives to us, because ultimately, our food security relies upon nature’s services.”

Read the discussion document and get involved in the debate.