Public want farmers to be custodians of the landscape for future generations

Four out of five adults believe that farmers have a responsibility to look after the landscape and wildlife for future generations, according to a new survey commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Fewer than a fifth of British adults would accept a more industrialised farming sector and an overwhelming 78 per cent of people want farmers to get more support to carry out environmentally sustainable farming practices.

The CPRE published an accompanying report describing their farming vision where farmers who adopt new environmental sustainability standards benefit from a price premium that recognises the additional environmental measures they are taking. For example, replanting of the countryside’s diminishing numbers of hedgerows.

Increasing global population and a changing climate have increased the pressures on food production. Agricultural intensification across Europe, particularly in the West, has simplified landscapes leading to a loss in biodiversity. However, Ian Woodhurst, senior farming campaigner for CPRE, believes that the public are aware of and understand the challenges of producing affordable food for a growing population and says “It’s great to see that people clearly want the environmental sustainable future for farming set out in our vision. There are huge challenges, including growing populations, increasing demand for land and natural resources, and pressures due to climate change. But we must find ways to cope with these challenges if we are to secure a living, thriving rural landscape”.

Source: Flohre, A., Fischer, C., Aavik, T. et al. (2011) Agricultural intensification and biodiversity partitioning in European landscapes comparing plants, carabids, and birds. Ecological Applications. 21: 1772-1781.