The Scottish Wildlife Trust and NFU Scotland are calling on the Scottish Government to ensure the country’s farmers and crofters can play their part in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.
In a new briefing, the two organisations have identified a number of measures that could be supported by Government and delivered on the ground by land managers, and which represent important first steps to delivering the urgent action that is needed.
These measures include encouraging more efficient use of nitrates; work to assess and improve soil health; coordinated action to re-naturalise rivers and create new riparian woodland; and support to tackle invasive non-native species on a landscape scale.
Many of these steps have been proposed by the Scottish Government’s Farmer-led groups and could be coordinated through the new Regional Land Use Partnerships as these are developed throughout the country.
Organic livestock farmer and Scottish Wildlife Trust Council member Carey Coombs said: “As an industry we are increasingly aware just how much farming relies on the resources provided by nature. As the vast majority of Scotland is managed for agriculture our industry has an almost unparallel ability to support positive environmental change.
“Unlocking this potential could create great rewards, both for wildlife and for people.”
“Unlocking this potential could create great rewards, both for wildlife and for people. New networks of wildlife-rich hedgerows could criss-cross Scotland, rivers could be revitalised and shaded by trees, and farm businesses could lessen their carbon and nitrogen emissions.
“Achieving our vision will require both public funding and a supporting framework of regulation. We hope the Scottish Government will take action to ensure that the relationship between farming and the natural environment becomes increasingly beneficial.”
The Scottish Wildlife Trust and NFU Scotland’s Champions for Change project has been developed to provide a platform for farmers to champion changes which could have a transformative effect.
It also aims to demonstrate to the Scottish Government the importance of setting a clear direction for future agriculture and land management policies and committing to fairer long-term funding for schemes that deliver environmental benefits, as well as a commitment to investing in natural capital, environmental improvement, and supporting the rural economy to play a key role in delivering a Green Recovery from Covid-19.
NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall said: “We share the same vision as the Scottish Wildlife Trust, where a sustainable agricultural sector and a thriving natural environment support each other.
“We share the same vision as the Scottish Wildlife Trust, where a sustainable agricultural sector and a thriving natural environment support each other.”
“We know that across all sectors, there will be difficult choices ahead and we want to see policies implemented that support all farmers and crofters, enabling them to be profitable and sustainable whilst delivering on our obligation to reduce our carbon footprint and help Scotland’s natural environment recover from its current state of crisis.
“All the farmer ‘Champions for Change’ identified by NFUS and the Scottish Wildlife Trust in our series of case studies are both innovative and inspirational. These show what could be achieved on many more farms and crofts across Scotland, providing we get the right policies and support in place.”
Read the full briefing and find out more about Champions for Change project.