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Ex-Defra official calls for half of UK farmland to return to nature


Former Defra official Professor Sir Ian Boyd has called on half of the UK’s farmland to be converted to natural habitat and woodland to fight climate change and restore wildlife according to The Guardian.

Former polar scientists Sir Ian, who became a vegetarian during his time at the government department, which he left last year, targeted upland farms which he said produced just 20 per cent of the UK’s food.

“We need a large, radical transformation and we need to do it quickly, in the next decade. You can tick an immense number of boxes simultaneously,” he said. “It would be much better to store carbon and water, grow trees and make the land available for people to improve their health and welfare.”

He added that new technologies such as vertical farming could make up the loss of productivity and said people should eat less meat to save the planet. However, his comments were dismissed by the NFU.

Guy Smith, NFU deputy president, commented, “Urgent action is needed to tackle the climate emergency. British farmers are already some of the most sustainable in the world. However, we will not halt climate change by curbing sustainable, British production and exporting it to countries which may not have the same climate ambition as we do here.”

Photo Caption: Professor Sir Ian Boyd

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons