Trees for storing carbon, grazing for livestock, improved animal welfare and sustainable rural economies – how can we satisfy all these aspirations for the British countryside? As the UK prepares to leave the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (often called the CAP), we’re presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do just that.
How the UK manages its land will be critical to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier. A recent study found that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture – including methane from livestock and nitrogen dioxide from fertilisers – are enough on their own to push global warming beyond 1.5°C. Since 70% of England is occupied by farming, how we grow food and the way we manage the rest of the land is very important in the effort to slow climate change.
The new Agriculture Act and Environmental Land Management Scheme is the UK government’s interpretation of environmentally sustainable farming. Rather than offering subsidies based on how much farmland someone manages, the new legislation offers farmers and landowners public money for public goods. That means, in theory, there’ll be a financial incentive for farmers to reserve land for wildlife. MORE
Header image: Pigs can be reared in woodland, where they forage for food naturally. Credit: Annie Spratt/Unsplash, CC BY-SA.