The scale of loss of complex natural ecosystems in England and globally could pose an existential risk to human survival, according to the chief executive of the Environment Agency.

Sir James Bevan delivered this message at the Green Alliance 'Nurturing nature: Can COP15 stop a silent spring?' event today (Tuesday, July 15).

A 'silent spring' refers to Rachel Carson's 1962 environmental science book of that name, which details the destruction of wildlife by human actions. Bevan warns that we are closer to ever to that scenario happening.

'The biodiversity crisis is a crisis because it won’t just kill the plants and animals it is killing," the Environment Agency chief executive said.

Sir James Bevan

"It will kill us too.

“That’s because nature is indivisible and interdependent. Nature provides us with a host of things we depend upon, such as clean water, clean air and food," he continued.

“No nature, no food. It’s vital in providing resilience to climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, regulating local climatic conditions and providing flood protection.

“No nature, no climate shield. And as humans we depend on green and blue spaces for our own health and well-being. No nature, no us.”

However, he believes that with the right measures in place, the crisis can be addressed with a nature-positive approach.

“We could achieve that goal in this country," he said.

"We know what we need to do: nurture our protected species; sustain our protected areas; better protect wildlife habitats outside those areas; restore our damaged habitats and create new ones; start to knit together nature networks across the whole country; build a nature positive approach into our planning and development; stop the pollution which damages our habitats; tackle the climate emergency which is accelerating the biodiversity crisis and vice versa; and wherever we have a problem, employ nature based solutions as the default to solving it.”