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Natural capital update: A model for more sustainable food production

By Georgina Weston

In June, the Sustainable Food Trust, an environmental charity, published ‘Feeding Britain from the Ground Up’.

The report provides a structure for a transition to sustainable and regenerative farming, exploring how a nationwide change could impact land use and methods of food production whilst tackling climate change and providing food security for the UK.

 

Key aspects of the transition include reducing livestock numbers, increasing mixed farming and localising food production. The report’s systematic approach to land use seeks to simplify the complex decisions and market forces which drive land use changes in reality.

 

By taking a modelling approach the authors were able to show how the UK’s food security needs could be met while giving an additional 1 million hectares of land available for nature and moving to regenerative agricultural systems.

 

Key points of the report include:

·        Maintaining beef and lamb numbers, with reductions to chicken, pork, egg and dairy production;

·        A 50% increase in land area used for growing legumes;

·        Greater diversity of cropping on all land including the best quality farmland in the UK, with a 50% reduction in grain output;

·        A doubling of fruit and vegetable production, helping to reduce food miles and cut carbon.

 

The report provides an optimistic vision for the future of food security and self-sufficiency; however it requires significant levels of funding and a societal change in attitude towards food production. In the short term, this transition may be difficult to achieve, but it provides a definite structure for the future of agricultural systems and a positive story from which food producers and land owners can benefit.

 

At Galbraith, we are exploring how land use changes, increased integration and more conscious provisioning can meet the needs of landholders, farmers and society.

 

·       Natural Capital: The expert team of advisers at Galbraith guide our clients in realising value in all land uses – by assessing and measuring natural assets, furthering opportunities in biodiversity net gain, and ensuring stakeholders are rewarded fully for their investment in and contribution to delivering ecosystem services and net-zero outcomes.