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News Release
15 October 2004

LAND MANAGERS’ UNIQUE ROLE IN CALMING CLIMATE CHANGE

Some of Britain’s top climate change and renewable energy scientists indicated at a Country Land & Business Association (CLA) seminar this week (13 Oct) the unique contribution that land management can make to combating climate change. 

Professor Allan Buckwell, CLA Chief Economist said, “All Britain’s production sectors have to work out how to use non-renewable resources more efficiently, but the land sector alone has three positive roles to play. These roles include providing sinks for carbon dioxide in soils and trees; enabling the substitution of renewable bioenergy and wind power for fossil fuels; and enabling the construction and other industries to use timber instead of concrete and other materials whose manufacture is highly polluting.

“None of these is a panacea but these actions can play a significant role during this century as longer-term, non-polluting substitutes are found for electricity generation and transport fuels.”

The seminar, hosted at the CLA’s headquarters, brought together contributors including the Global Atmosphere Division of Defra, the Rothamsted Research Association and IGER (Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research), the University of East Anglia, Sheffield Hallam University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management to assist the CLA in drawing up its long term strategy for sustainable land management.

Some of the key lessons of the seminar were:
§       The Government’s renewable energy policy will be hard to achieve using the current strategy which is slanted to large-scale wind generation predominantly in the north of Scotland.  The necessary rate of construction of turbines and grid interconnections does not look attainable.

§       This renewable energy policy must, therefore, be widened to encourage a greater contribution from biomass for electricity and biofuels for transport energy – both of which will be provided by land managers.

§       There has to be greater focus on local supply and generation which will save transmissions costs and be in a form acceptable to the local communities.

§       Current policy does not pay enough attention to using lower-polluting construction materials (timber) and the necessary afforestation and forest management to achieve this. Again, the role of land managers is key here.

§       Within agriculture there is no single simple mechanism to reduce green house gas emissions. Actions are required on a wide range of efficiency measures focussing on better ways of utilising mineral fertilisers and reducing leaks from the nitrogen cycle in livestock production.

§       However, simply making agriculture less intensive in order to reduce the amount of green house gases produced by agriculture would also reduce production. As demand would be filled by agricultural production abroad, there would be no net reduction in green house gas production (due to transport). Greater impacts on the production of green house gases can be achieved from changing land use so that carbon dioxide can be ‘stored’ in soils (permanent pastures and woodland) and trees (forestry). But there are still difficult issues to be resolved before this could be encouraged.

§       All these actions require an awareness building and education programme for all in the food and energy chains including consumers, for example, by labelling indicating the carbon intensity of products.

As a practical step the CLA is pioneering is the use of a farm-level tool for land managers to audit their net Greenhouse Gas emissions and sinks.  This will shortly be rolled out for others to use and is an essential first step to move to ‘Carbon Aware Land Management (CALM).

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors:

    1.      The seminar was held at the CLA on 13 October. Participants included Global Atmosphere Division of Defra, the Rothamsted Research Association and IGER (Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research), the University of East Anglia, Sheffield Hallam University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management.

    2.      The CLA is preparing to launch its long term strategy for sustainable land management in early 2005.
    3.      If you would like to receive more information when the CLA launches its ‘Carbon Aware Land Management’ (CALM) tool, please email Helen Leyland at helen.leyland@cla.org.uk.

    4.      CLA: The Country Land and Business Association is the premier organisation safeguarding the interests of those responsible for land, property and business throughout rural England and Wales.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Helen Leyland, National Press Officer
Tel: 020 7460 7936 or Mobile: 07970 550 261
helen.leyland@cla.org.uk