Natural England published its State of the Natural Environment report, in which it called for a new approach to the management of the natural environment to permit it to adapt to what, lot of scientist are expecting will take place in next future: the climate change. But a good management of natural environment, anyway, will also permit us to reduce the effect of the modern pressures of development on environment.
The Chief Executive of Natural England Dr Helen Phillips, said about this item: "England needs a new approach to conservation if we are to tackle effectively the modern pressures on land created by climate change and development. The natural environment is increasingly under threat, both within and especially away from protected areas.
'We need to find ways to manage our landscape to create a mosaic of uses so that we can help wildlife survive - be it through a new National Park around the length of England's coastline, better use of the green belt or improved use of public funding for farmers to deliver a better natural environment.'
'If we don't act, there's a real danger some of our most precious wildlife will be lost forever and our lives will be poorer for it,' concluded Helen Phillips.
Some notes about sustainable farming techniques: These words recall our attention to the agricultural policy about which other times 'Natural England' expressed its thoughts, particularly about the biodiversity protection of those lands previously in set-aside. Anyway we know very well how much agricultural policies can, everywhere, influence the environmental and landscape quality.
In order to get a better environment and landscape, is important to highlight, European citizens subsidy a particular agricultural conservation policy that targets on a sustainable rural development, supported by means of financial resources coming from the Rural Developments Plan (RDP), that all the regions of each European nation realize (also) to increase the profitability of their low input agriculture.
There are different levels in practicing a low input farming: some farmers take care of applying to their crop extensions simply 'good agricultural practices'; those practices are usually known as 'conservative agriculture' and some of these ones are required in European agriculture according to the 'conditionality section' of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In other situations 'good agricultural practices' application is checked according to some facultative certifying schemes.
All these practices usually act to prevent basic damages to the soil and the environment, like soil erosion, compactness and to save the rate of soil organic matter.
An higher level of environmental protection is that is checked by regional public bodies to ensure people that is realized an integrated agriculture scheme of operations, planed in the RDPs, that comprise, for example, agricultural minimum, or zero tillages, winter cover crops, integrated pest management, by means of the most recent low-impact agro-chemicals and all the other conservation measures and cultivation practice that anyway allow the farmer to go on having suitable harvests and yields.
'Integrated agriculture' make use of those low impact techniques permitting to get, at a same time, high productions and, if we possibly can, low impact on the natural environment. In order to get this aims usually a chemical pesticide is preferred to a natural one, but this happens not always. For example Integrated Pest Management (IPM), as organic agriculture, make us of pest insects predators, particularly in those situations in which pesticides are really no effective.
The top level in European environmental protection in agricultural practice is what we have in the 'Organic Farming', that profits only natural resources (according to the 2091/92 CE Regulation and following ones). But when we have certain bad weather conditions, organic farming can often offer us only a very low profitability, because of it cannot utilize, for example, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to nourish and protect the croplands.
For the reasons above, those farmers who practice organic farming, in order to increase the profitability of this very low input agricultural practices, can usually profit by a more easy access to RDP agricultural subsidies. The organic products are certified following different schemes by some private bodies. Besides all over the Europe are Organic Farmers Association that promote this farming technique and in many cases also help farmers advising them in trading their products.
The sustainable farming get agricultural biodiversity (= wildlife-species) increased, a circumstance that also help farmers to reduce the needs of agro-chemical inputs and for the same reason to reduce the costs of crop protection.
Besides, in the places where organic farming is practiced, crop rotation while acts reducing parasites and increasing soil fertility, makes also more pleasant the landscape, of highlands and hills, places where organic farming can be more profitable because the weather conditions are frequently more suitable to this farming technique.
Natural England press office tell us what are the key issues about which we can find information in the report released last may: they report the natural environment in England is much less rich than 50 years ago and remains under pressure from a significant range of threats: more intense use of the land and sea; continuing economic development and climate change.
Although the character of England's landscapes has been maintained almost everywhere, 20% of it still show signs of neglect and there are also significant problems related to it. For instance, lack of woodland management is causing a 50% decline of native woodland butterflies.
Other habitats are also deteriorating (only 3% of grasslands remain rich in native plants). Stress from climate change affects both the coast and the land, with a range of species moving northwards and upwards.
There have been major declines in populations of breeding wading birds on unprotected lowland wetland grasslands, but this decrease of farmland bird population is slowing in those place where are used environmentally friendly farming practices, with an improved condition, in the last 10 years, of the most important wildlife sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest).
In this direction people can see that species such as the red kite are recolonizing their former range after successful reintroduction, and heathland birds such as nightjars and woodlarks are increasing thanks to better management of the heathland.
The findings from the report have also led Natural England to publish a 'Manifesto for the Natural Environment' (720 Kb), which outlines what needs to be done, to make better the environment and landscape conditions in UK.
Source: Natural England
Author: Luca Federico Fianchini, May 19, 2008