A new report commissioned by the Scottish Wildlife Trust highlights the transformative potential of nature-based solutions for Scottish farms and crofts. Nature-based solutions can aid farmers and land managers in mitigating climate change impacts by improving soil health, water retention, and resilience to wildfires, floods and heatwaves.
The report calls for a paradigm shift in farming policy to realise the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland to be a leader in sustainable and regenerative food production, and in doing so address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and economic uncertainties.
The report calls for a higher level of urgency and clarity to be injected into the development of farming policy so that all land managers have information and support to make the changes needed to deliver the Scottish Government’s Vision for Agriculture, including by adopting nature-based solutions.
The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at policy makers, politicians, funders, education and training providers which are pivotal for farmers in several ways:
Sustainable food production – Nature-based solutions are crucial for ensuring sustainable food production in Scotland. These solutions can enhance soil health, reduce the need for expensive and polluting pesticides and fertilisers, and contribute to diversified production systems, ultimately promoting food security.
Economic support – The proposed changes in the Agricultural Reform Programme and the alignment of policies with Nature Networks provide an opportunity for farmers to receive support that can help them navigate economic uncertainties, reduce costs, and make their practices more resilient.
Incentives for change – The recommendations in the report emphasise incentivising public benefits. This means that farmers adopting nature-based solutions could receive payments for supporting a clean water supply or reducing flood risk, fostering a positive transition toward sustainable farming practices.
Ellie Brodie, report author said: “This report underscores the critical role that nature-based solutions can play in transforming Scotland’s agriculture. By aligning policies with our National Outcomes and embracing holistic approaches, we have the opportunity to not only address environmental challenges but also foster resilient and sustainable farming practices.”
Rebekah Strong, Terrestrial Policy Manager at Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Nature-based solutions in agriculture are a cornerstone for promoting biodiversity and mitigating the impact of climate change. This report highlights the potential benefits, demonstrating how sustainable farming practices can coexist with nature, creating healthier ecosystems and contributing to the overall resilience of Scotland’s natural environment.”
The full report and a summary can be found here.
The report was funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, one of the UK’s largest independent funders. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aim to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and strengthen the bonds in communities in the UK. They do this by contributing all they can to unlock change by people and organisations with brilliant ideas who share their goals.