The results are in from the first year of our pioneering three year project to map how the farmers we work with impact the environment.
Biodiversity is a key indicator of a balance between agriculture and nature and this is key for agriculture to be sustainable. Any changes to this can cause a reduction in the resilience of ecosystems which provide many services which are vital to agricultural production – such as nutrient cycling, waste decomposition and detoxification with the degrading of pollutants, maintenance and formation of soil and pest and disease control.
At the Co-op, as part of our ongoing commitment to the environment, we have an important role promoting biodiversity, reducing our carbon footprint in a cost-effective way and improving farm efficiencies where we can.
To help us measure how biodiverse our farmers and and producer groups are, we’ve developed Enviromap, a three year project with Alltech E-C02 – who deliver and promote sustainability to measure and reduce the emissions associated with agriculture. It’s the world’s first Carbon Trust accredited self-entry carbon footprint assessment.
Today we’ve shared what we’ve achieved in the first year. The results show:
– 1,000 miles (1633 km) of hedgerows that are managed across the farming groups – enough to stretch from London to Lisbon
– 1,400 hectares of woodland including native, coniferous and broadleaf areas – the same size as occupied by Los Angeles International Airport
– 455 hectares of watercourses and wetlands that provide habitats for species such as Kingfisher and Lapwing – around 16 tennis courts
– 116 hectares of wildflower meadows – enough to fill 140 full size football pitches
– 100 devices on farms to encourage wildlife into natural habitats including bird boxes, bee hives and beetle banks.
The data also shows that renewable energy is a real focus for the 400 farmers who took part in a self-assesment programme. They produced enough evergy to power 5,000 homes for a year.
Matt Hood, Co-op’s Trading Director, said:
“The need to create a more sustainable approach to farming and food production is just as important as producing high-quality, fairly-priced food and we can only achieve this with regular and reliable measurement of our producers. We are delighted to see that in year one alone, they are already offsetting their farming practises by contributing heavily to improved biodiversity levels which are so utterly critical to the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
Caroline Morris of Manor Farm, part of the Co-op’s Beef Farming Group, has planted wildflower margins around the field boundaries on her Buckinghamshire farm. She said:
“The wildflowers look fantastic in the summer and they’ve certainly increased the number of butterflies on the farm. Our neighbour, who produces honey, has found an increase in production since our wildflowers have been in place so there has clearly been an increase in the number of bees in the area.”
As an ethical retailer, we’re proud to shout about the work we do with our farmers to boost and protect the environment. Many of our colleagues are really passionate about this and play a big part in shaping their local green spaces.
What personal steps are you taking to improve biodiversity in your community? We’d love to hear why this subject is important to you. Please share your thoughts and comments below.