The way we use our land is crucial in tackling the climate crisis and can play a large role in preventing us from increasing more than 1.5 oC above baseline levels.
On 14th September 2019, over 190 countries signed an agreement to consider land based solutions for climate change and biodiversity conservation (known as the Paris Agreement)
A global issue: win-win or lose-lose
Globally agriculture, forestry, and other land use activities resulted in 23 per cent of man made emissions of greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 – 2016.
During the same period, land absorbed the equivalent of 29 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The difference is the same amount as the annual greenhouse gas emissions for the whole of the United States.
Challenges and opportunities for the UK
The challenge of creating a sustainable future involves balancing many competing needs. The UK Committee on Climate Change recognise that the current approach to land use is not sustainable.
- UK temperatures have risen by 0.8oC between 1961 and 1990.
- Nine of the ten warmest years have occurred since 2002.
- Future predictions suggest further warming, periods of heavy rain leading to greater risks of flooding, and reduced water availability in the summer.
- Potential negative impacts for soil, water, vegetation and wildlife are likely to be significant.
Delivering emissions reduction on land
Low carbon farming practices
- Efficient use of nitrogen – loosening soil compaction on cropland, precision farming, more use of organic residues, better accounting for nutrients in livestock manures, increased use of legume crops.
- Improved animal health and fertility and improving feed conversion ratio – select breeds that emit lower levels of methane.
- Managing manure – better storage, use of anaerobic digestion, better management of housed livestock manures.
Afforestation and forestry management
- Selecting the right tree for the right space.
- Ensuring good tree establishment.
- On-going management as the tree grows.
- Preventing the spread of disease through good bio-security and selection.
- Maximise the many additional services that trees provide – flood prevention, food production, timber production, recreation, air quality improvement.
- New woodland plantations – designed and managed to maximise carbon sequestration and biodiversity.
Open Spaces and allotments
- Reduce pesticide use and other harmful activities.
- Manage your land for nature – encourage pollinating insects and birds.
- Change your mowing regimes – let your residents know why you are doing this and report back on the increases in biodiversity you have seen.
- Green your streets – encourage flowers, shrubs and trees to create habitat corridors.
- Plant more trees – adopt a Tree Charter.
- Compost rather than landfill.
- Designate sites for trees, nature and energy.
- Encourage other and promote the actions you are taking.
- Use organic, peat free compost.
- Use your powers within the Neighbourhood Plan to create nature friendly developments.
Schools and colleges
- Create an outdoor classroom suitable for all curriculum areas.
- Create a forest school environment.
- Increase habitat connectivity by planting all around the school.
- Install bird, bat, hedgehog and owl boxes.
- Plant and grow vegetables and leave the seeds for the birds and small animals.
- Plant species rich green tunnels and features.
- Teach every child the importance of caring for their local environment.
- Use organic methods.