The end results of all this will feed into the next SRDP, hopefully in the form of agri env prescriptions that benefit all machair biodiversity via agriculturally viable management techniques. Whilst LIFE projects across Europe are focusing on single invert species, our project is unusual in that it covers both priority species and implications for wider ecological community
'Earthworms, though in appearance a small and despicable link in the chain of nature, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable chasm. Worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which would proceed but lamely without them.' (1770): Gilbert White
The market alone cannot deliver (although they must play their role) there is a need for regulation and public fundingThe status quo isn’t working – poole harbour exampleHigh nitrogen levels in Poole Harbour are smothering wader feeding areas. Over 80% of this nitrogen comes from agriculture – the green part of the pie chart – the rest from treated sewage.Every new home and business in the catchment – including any in the town of Poole and a large part of West Dorset – adds more nitrogen to Poole Harbour. At most, new development would only see a 2% increase in nitrogen levels – the orange part of the chart – but to prevent any extra damage local authorities need to balance this by reducing existing nitrogen pollution. (HabsRegs cumulative damage.)The least expensive way to do this would be to pay farmers to change their crops or fertiliser use, and we spent a year checking whether this was possible.In the end it wasn’t, and for two reasons: the councils thought it was unfair for people causing only 2% of the problem to pay those who are causing far more – especially when that money would otherwise go on infrastructure and affordable homes. And farmers did not want to sign up to contracts – they would have cost more than outright land purchase.Instead, the local authorities have chosen to convert some areas of farmland into parks – a more expensive option, but one they think provides a wider range of benefits to communities.
in Food and Farming