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Amy Thompson, Head of Policy Programmes and Communications, Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath

10 October 2019, 10:12 UTC Share

IPR launches new event series on the future of UK farming, wildlife loss and climate change

‘The Future is in Our Lands’ is a new public event series which will address issues around the future of UK land and farming, sustainable food production, and the protection of our ecosystems.

We are experiencing a climate crisis that is destroying our planet. Here in the UK we are living witnesses to a globally repeated pattern of the extinction of wildlife, habitats and biodiversity and the decline in the health and species range in our oceans and soils; to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought. We must make changes now to halt this spiral of destruction before the tipping point – the point of no return, is upon us.

Amidst the tumultuousness of our climate crisis, we face a second unprecedented situation here in the UK – Brexit. If the UK leaves the EU one of the many significant changes will be the end of the EU funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Introduced in 1950 the CAP was designed to implement a system of agricultural subsidies, and is now the subsidy our farmers currently receive through the Single Farm Payment (SFP) . In the most simplified terms, farmers are paid for the amount of farm land they own. The impending loss of this subsidy to UK farmers has significant implications for UK farming practices and the future of farming.

Alongside this, the prevalent current practices of UK farming contribute to our carbon emissions – from methane production from livestock, through to the use of pesticides, herbicides, slurry production, and so on. Yet our agricultural industry has the unique opportunity to be transformed from a net carbon producer to a carbon sink through – among other things- carbon sequestration, precision farming, or rewilding areas back to natural habitats. There is an ambition, amongst some pioneering UK farmers, to move towards net zero farming emissions by 2040, and to do this whilst remaining financially viable and producers of high welfare, nutritious food.

This ecological and sustainable shift will require changes in how farmers are incentivised, their farming processes and how they are financially rewarded.

Within this context, we are pleased to launch ‘The Future is in Our Lands’ – a new event series to run from November to June, 2019-2020, at the University of Bath.

Through public lectures and panel debates, this series seeks to engage with experts, advisors, policymakers, the farming community and the public and aims to discuss how we use and manage our land, the future of UK farming and how we can increase and protect the range of biodiversity in our ecosystems.

The series will also explore how we can grow, distribute, and eat food, which provides healthy and affordable nutrition, whilst restoring ecosystems, and the livelihoods of UK farmers.

We believe now is the time to take action, for the protection of our environment for now and for future generations.

1. Lecture one: The Future is in our LandsCraig Bennett, CEO, Friends of the Earth.

Wednesday 6th November 2019. 17:15 -19:00. Venue: University of Bath, Chancellors’ Building 1.12. BA2 7AY

Abstract : Too often, we talk about the “climate crisis” and the “ecological emergency” as if they are separate issues. But, in reality, they are both symptoms of the same problem, and plenty of the solutions needed to fix one will help address the other.

What does this mean for the future of our land and landscape here in the UK?

In this talk, Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, will explore how doubling tree cover, restoring peat bogs, wetlands and functioning ecosystems, and putting nature back into our towns and cities is essential for solving the climate and ecological emergency. And, how it might be good for people’s health and wellbeing too.

2. Panel debate: The future of UK farming and food production.

Tuesday 19th November 2019. 17:30 -19:00. Venue: University of Bath, Chancellors’ Building 1.11. BA2 7AY

Abstract: Brexit, and the potential departure from the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), could provide an opportunity to transform the UK farming and food system.

But how can we ensure that the way we grow, distribute and eat food provides healthy and affordable nutrition whilst restoring ecosystems and improving the livelihoods of farmers? What does the future of British farming look like? And how can we measure and value sustainability and soil, plant and animal health, whilst at the same time protecting our farmers and farming communities as well as our environment?

This panel debate welcomes Patrick Holden (Sustainable Food Trust), Joanna Lewis (Soil Association), Jo Edwards ( Castle Farm Organics), and Jack Farmer ( LettUs Grow) to address such questions, and look to the future of UK farming and food production.

3. Keynote lecture:Born to Rewild! Professor Alistair Driver, Rewilding Specialist.

Tuesday 11th February 2020. 17.15-19.00. Venue: University of Bath, 5 West 2.1. BA2 7AY

Abstract: Is rewilding all about wolves and bears and abandoning the land? Or can we rewild our landscapes for the benefit of people as well as wildlife, without “scaring the horses”?

In this presentation Professor Alastair Driver will explain the pros and cons of reintroducing missing species and illustrates, using images of pioneering projects he has been involved with, how working with nature rather than against it, can actually benefit the economy and society as a whole.

Alistair Driver is an Honorary Professor of Applied Environmental Management at the University of Exeter and was the National Conservation Manager for the Environment Agency from 2002 to 2016. In January 2017 Driver was appointed as Director – England and Wales for Rewilding Britain.

Amy Thompson is Head of Policy Programmes and Communications, Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath. If you’d like to hear more about the work of the IPR please sign up to our newsletter

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