Nature is in trouble, as highlighted in ‘State of Nature 2016’. Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined, with 40% showing strong or moderate declines.
Many factors have resulted in changes to the UK’s wildlife over recent decades but the intensification and specialisation of agriculture have been key drivers. We need to adopt more sustainable and nature friendly farming systems as a matter of urgency. Whilst there may be a range of options to pursue, there is clear evidence that organic farming can have large, positive effects on biodiversity compared to ‘conventional’ farming.
On average, organic farms increase biodiversity (measured as species richness) by about one third. There is also some evidence that soils managed organically release less GHG emissions than chemically fertilised soils. Helping organic and other forms of agro-ecological farming to become more widespread, in order to halt declines in nature and combat climate change, should be a key strand of future Government policy across the UK.