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CLA Secures Grant to Help Land Managers Combat Climate Change 14/06/07

Almost £50,000 has been awarded to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) by the East of England Development Agency to fund a project to enable farmers and land managers calculate the carbon footprint of their businesses and judge the best way to react.

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An easy to use, web-based calculator* will be built to assess the individual green house gas emissions of any farm or estate. From the results managers will be able to decide what action they need to take to reduce emissions and to adapt their businesses to take advantage of future opportunities for carbon offsetting and trading.

Under CALM (Carbon Accounting for Land Managers) Savills' Research Department will carry out the work, representing £20,000 of match funding, in conjunction with CLA staff. The calculator will be carried on the CLA website and will be free and accessible to all.

"The public and end-users already want to know that producers are working to reduce emissions," said Jim Paice, shadow agriculture spokesman, announcing the EEDA grant at Cereals 2007 on Wednesday, June 13. "This can only increase and suppliers will need to be able to provide hard facts and figures on emissions and how they are dealing with them. CALM will put them ahead of the game.

On the plus side, land management is one of the few industries which is able to make a positive contribution to reduce the impacts of climate change:

  • the production of renewable energy,
  • carbon sequestration
  • supplying building materials such as timber and hemp to replace highly polluting ones."

"Undoubtedly climate change and all its implications is a major issue, which has to be addressed" said Paul Hinds, EEDA sustainable development manager. "This is why we are pleased to support this important initiative."

"EEDA has now given two substantial grants** to the CLA to research the impacts of climate change and the effect on farming and forestry. This illustrates how seriously the agency is taking the whole subject in its role as lead RDA for climate change and reflects our commitment to the future and the long-term view we take," said CLA president David Fursdon.

"We are calling on the government to take the same view and carry out detailed research to establish how we should commit our land in the light of climate change. For decades this country has benefited from an abundance of cheap food with the result that successive governments have not been concerned to safeguard farmland. All this is changing. Experts agree that drought and rising sea levels are going to reduce the amount of productive land world-wide. At the same time the world population is increasing rapidly. It is predicted to rise from its current 6.6 billion to 9.4billion by 2050. Each year it is growing by 80 million – the population of Germany.

"Our land is just too precious to lose. We need to step back now and thoroughly assess what we are doing with it – and ensure that no irrevocable action is taken that would prevent farmers from producing the food future generations are going to need."

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

* The CLA CALM calculator will use methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

** In October 2005 EEDA granted the CLA £38,950 for the CLIO project which it undertook jointly with the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit and the European Landowners Association. Focusing on 21 large country estates across Europe, (three in England) the aims were to gain a more detailed understanding of climate change on these estates, to identify ways of adapting to the changes, develop mitigation strategies and provide guidance for policymakers and stakeholders. (Report details attached herewith).

Between 1965 and 2000 world annual cereal production was increased by about 1 billion tonnes. By 2030, an extra 1 billion tonnes of cereals will be needed each year

The amount of farmland (all grades) 'lost' in England to:

1) development over the past five years is estimated at about 25,000 ha per year; just under 0.3%.

2) environmental schemes. In 2006 there were 5.2 million ha in agri-environmental schemes in England – Defra. Over the past 10 years over 400,000 ha of cropland in the UK is no longer in production but some 630,000 ha of pasture has been gained – Defra.

3) Set-aside UK 2006: 513,000 ha. – Defra

Global average soil loss is between 8 and 15 tonnes per ha per year. There are some 4.9 billion hectares of farm land in the world so we are losing between 39 and 74 billion tonnes of soil each year – USDA.

link Biodiversity is crucial in the fight against climate change - Gardiner
link SAC Energy Audits Help Reduce On-Farm Carbon Footprint
link Biofuels - a realistic assessment

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