Report urges farmers to play their part to meet climate ambition

Scottish farmers have the opportunity to be “the champions and not the victims” of climate change, according to a new report.

Commissioned by NFUS Scotland and Nourish Scotland, the Farming for 1.5°C Inquiry Interim Report says farmers, land managers and rural businesses, agricultural suppliers and buyers must all play their part to help Scotland meet its climate change ambition to be net zero by 2045.

The independent inquiry brought together a panel of experts – including Steven Thomson, Senior Agricultural Economist at SRUC – to find consensus on a path to net zero for Scottish farming “that still delivers a robust industry, that is integral to the culture, nature and prosperity of Scotland”.

The report says there is a “heavy responsibility” on farmers, farm managers and crofters to revolutionise current practices to reduce agriculture’s impacts on the climate, and maximise sequestration through changes to management practices to reduce the need for a complete land-use change.

They must also have a “positive attitude towards the multi-use of land needs to become the norm so as to sequester carbon and build biodiversity”.

These ‘multi-functional’ land uses include integrating agroforestry and agroecology, using wetlands as part of natural flood protection networks and building long-term multispecies pastures, and restoring peatlands to keep carbon in the soil and boost biodiversity. Planting trees also has an important role – as farm woodlands, hedges and shelter belts as well as larger blocks of forestry.

Steven Thomson said: “The panel of farmers, stakeholders and scientists took evidence from a large number of experts from near and far and the ‘realisation journey’ was clear to see – that is, we all came to understand and accept the urgent need to do things differently if Scotland’s land managers are to play their part in limiting global temperature rises and biodiversity decline while safeguarding the livelihoods of generations to come.”

He added: “The rationale for supporting agriculture appears to be switching from income support and production support to that of supporting sustainable land management - and farmers and crofters should be able to embrace these changes and use them to do things differently and promote Scotland as a place of sustainable production at a time when consumer preferences evolve at home and abroad.

“The report does not shy away from the difficult transitions that will be required, but it reminds everyone that it is within our collective control to do things differently and better as an industry.”

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “The report sets out principles that all sectors of Scottish agriculture need to adopt. NFU Scotland agrees that we need to improve agricultural and carbon efficiency, better manage our soils, and develop a new approach to sharing knowledge and technical support.

“What this report makes most clear is that we all need to act immediately to tackle the climate emergency.

“Scottish Government is now well equipped with advice to take action that will support Scottish farmers, crofters, and growers as they contribute to achieving our ambitious national climate change targets and reversing biodiversity loss.”

The report can be found here.

Posted by SRUC on 10/11/2020

Tags: Government, Rural Business, Climate and Environment
Categories: Sustainability | Natural Economy