Blog by Ruth Welters, Communications and Impact Manager for the Nexus Network.
Photocredit: David Wright.
Agricultural land is used for many things: we use land to grow food, but the same land is also needed to help provide clean water; to regulate water flow to prevent extremes of drought and flooding; grow biofuels, offer recreation for people and a provide a home for wildlife.
Last week on Wed 25 June 2014, I went to London for a meeting hosted by Nexus Network partner organisation; the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, who launched the ‘Best Use of Agricultural Land‘ report.
Andrew Montague-Fuller from CISL explained that there is lots of research on individual uses of land but not much research taking all land uses together, so it’s hard to evaluate the demand from these competing uses of land. Over the past 6 months, CISL have worked in collaboration with Asda, Sainsbury’s, Nestlé, AB Agri, Yara, BASF, BOCM Pauls, Volac and the NFU and CLA to estimate the amount of additional land needed if the UK were to deliver on all policies to do with land use, such as sustainabile intensification of food production, biofuels and environmental protection.
The study concluded a two million hectare shortfall in UK land would be possible by 2030.
CISL had secured some high-profile people to attend the event including Sir Jim Paice MP who said the report was a ‘wake up call to all government’.
But the talk that really caught my attention was from Dr Chris Brown, Sustainable Business Director at ASDA. Chris Brown talked about the importance to supermarkets of a resilient supply chain; including consideration of climate change, water excess and drought, soil stability, pests and disease. ASDA’s research shows that 95% of their fresh produce already at risk from climate change.
Chris Brown also stressed that all of these considerations are only important if the product is bought and used by their customers, so maintaining reputation and brand integrity is vital. To put this in perspective, he said that, if you take into account all mentions on social media, ASDA get something like 18 million mentions per week. Something we aspire to with the Nexus Network!
The conclusion of the event was that there is a real need for all the business sectors and policy makers involved in food, agriculture, energy, environmental protection etc etc to come together and follow the lead of Scotland to create a clear land use strategy for the UK.