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Biodiversity conservation The key, reducing meat consumption
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Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 15 2:13 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

Rob R wrote:
You seem to now be saying that holistic production can increase yields, so there is no need to eat less and the little guys can stand a chance of surviving.
From the point of biodiversity production levels aren't relevant, other than if it makes economic sense for the farmer he/she is more likely to go down that route.
You & I both know it's not easy to increase stock levels per hectare whatever production methods you follow or how intensive.
I suppose maximum stocking rate is achieved by zero grazing & intensive fertilised forage harvest. But I know little of that type of farming to only speculate.
Whether a more holistic approach will increase yield is debatable. I only quoted one example which isn't very scientific.
I think there's enough evidence to indicate the Intensive & genetically modified forms of agriculture aren't as productive as the industry would like us to believe, & certainly not as profitable for the farmer.

IMHO It would be nice to see a return of the old ADAS style of advisor but with a sustainable direction & accompanied by representation from the local wildlife trust.
The idea of permaculture design principles applied to general agriculture strikes me as a good idea but if you said that to most farmers they would think you where talking a load of hippy shit.
But really designing your business around your land & individual skills & abilities makes good sense to me.

But there is still a need to limit global meat production because of that sectors contribution to climate change which is another thing all together.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 15 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:
The idea of permaculture design principles applied to general agriculture strikes me as a good idea but if you said that to most farmers they would think you where talking a load of hippy shit.
But really designing your business around your land & individual skills & abilities makes good sense to me.


20 years ago I think you would have been spot on but, and I don't know whether this is just the people I interact with or my geographical area, but it's a lot more accepted. A prime example being my Dexters - sure, most farmers aren't going to give up their Limmis, because the market isn't demanding that, but they are appreciating the value of a smaller, more economical cow, that is also better suited to grazing wetter ground.

Tavascarow wrote:
But there is still a need to limit global meat production because of that sectors contribution to climate change which is another thing all together.


Quite right, a totally different subject, but this paper is about biodiversity so that isn't relevant to this debate and would only be a distraction if I were to point out that getting rid of meat consumption would result in a net increase in GHGs. As I keep saying though, we can't limit global meat production by eating negative amounts, so we can only eat & produce the appropriate amount for each country/landscape.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 10885

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 15 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There are two completely different models for Britain before man started doing much more than hunting; the wall to wall trees, and the open savannah model with clumps of trees kept in check by the browsing of large herbivores.

As you say Tavascarow, we need to look carefully at each environment, as one size does not fit all. On the downs, where yew has been allowed to grow, mainly interspersed with whitebeam, and on slopes, there is virtually nothing but chalk scree under the trees. If the trees are kept in check by grazing, all sorts of amazing plants come up. While allowing trees to grow on uplands, and most wouldn't grow that well, may be a good idea, it is only good as long as it doesn't destroy the existing fauna and flora. Planting trees is the worst possible idea as the trees will almost certainly not thrive.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4260
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 15 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Quote Tav,
I'm not advocating rewilding the whole of Britain.
& your comment about imports has nothing to do with a lack of production with regards to food, & everything to do with economics.
Tesco sell South American beef because it's cheaper than British, not because we don't produce enough of it here in the UK.

My comment about increased imports was regarding your wilding comment,not the present situation.

If numbers of ruminants in the UK are reduced,your wish and certain parties,then that volume of meat will be filled by more imports as the population increases.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

THE UK AND ITS FORESTS – The real story of a nation and it’s land.
Quote:
The Caledonian forest, one of the largest and oldest forests in the UK, is dying.
By Greta Santagata

Its expanse is broken up, damaged by tree felling, fire and intensive grazing by sheep and deer. The introduction of non-native species of conifers and ploughing has reduced what was once one of the largest primeval forests in the UK into little more than 1% of its original range, and much of it is in a degraded state.
Quote:
The same is true for most forests in the UK, which now cover just 12% of the territory, making it Europe’s second least-wooded country after Ireland.

For an island that was completely covered in thick closed canopy forest only 6000 years ago (a blink of an eye, in geological terms), the transformation has been radical. Since humans started to settle and domesticate animals, this forested wildlife haven slowly turned into scrub, then from scrub to heath and from heath to the green, flat, boundless deserts of grassy pastures that we know today.
Quote:
Today on the overgrazed uplands of Wales there is so little nutrient in the soil than anything can barely grow and very little life is to be seen, other than sheep. Birds have mostly gone, wild flowers, shrubs and trees are no longer growing, and insects are barely present, due to the lack of plant species and the heavy use of insecticides.

From an ecological point of view, the green, rolling hills of Britain, dotted with sheep and cattle, are as ecologically rich as a dusty desert: a dull anthropogenic reality, stripped almost entirely of the diversity of life that resulted from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.
Quote:
After the two world wars, subsidies further encouraged landowners to devote their uplands exclusively to pasture, and in Wales alone sheep numbers went from 3.9 million to 9.7 million: that is three sheep for every Welshman or woman. Since 1945 sheep have modified and cleared the land: allowed to roam inside woodlands and forests, they are preventing new trees from growing back, have decimated wild flowers and orchids and have turned a diverse upland environment into an ecological desert.


My bold underline.

I would personally rather eat less meat & see a return of some of that lost habitat to its former glory.
I would rather eat less meat & be able to photograph rare species of birds, insects & flowers than read about them in a dusty old book.
That's my choice.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:
Quote:
From an ecological point of view, the green, rolling hills of Britain, dotted with sheep and cattle, are as ecologically rich as a dusty desert: a dull anthropogenic reality, stripped almost entirely of the diversity of life that resulted from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.
Quote:
After the two world wars, subsidies further encouraged landowners to devote their uplands exclusively to pasture, and in Wales alone sheep numbers went from 3.9 million to 9.7 million: that is three sheep for every Welshman or woman. Since 1945 sheep have modified and cleared the land: allowed to roam inside woodlands and forests, they are preventing new trees from growing back, have decimated wild flowers and orchids and have turned a diverse upland environment into an ecological desert.


My bold underline.

I would personally rather eat less meat & see a return of some of that lost habitat to its former glory.
I would rather eat less meat & be able to photograph rare species of birds, insects & flowers than read about them in a dusty old book.
That's my choice.


I'm finding it difficult to follow their sources, as they have referenced the 9.7m figure but not the 3.9m, nor exactly when it was. I have found figures from 1900 for the whole of England & Wales (19.28 million sheep) and compared that with the figures for the whole of the UK in 2013 (22.6 million). That seems to me a more modest increase than is being suggested which could more than be taken up by the numbers of sheep in Scotland.

Personally I would rather eat more meat and encourage those birds, insects & flowers to become less rare. But that's just my choice.

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In areas of the dales cows have been retruned to upland grazing and sheep removed. This is allowing the regeneration of scrubby woodland in the more inaccessble places of steep hill sides and limestone pavements, perviously picked clean by sheep. I think it's the national trust taking this on. Also a significant area is going to be fences and planted with trees and scrub. Mainly on Malham moor.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Rob R wrote:
Tavascarow wrote:
Quote:
From an ecological point of view, the green, rolling hills of Britain, dotted with sheep and cattle, are as ecologically rich as a dusty desert: a dull anthropogenic reality, stripped almost entirely of the diversity of life that resulted from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.
Quote:
After the two world wars, subsidies further encouraged landowners to devote their uplands exclusively to pasture, and in Wales alone sheep numbers went from 3.9 million to 9.7 million: that is three sheep for every Welshman or woman. Since 1945 sheep have modified and cleared the land: allowed to roam inside woodlands and forests, they are preventing new trees from growing back, have decimated wild flowers and orchids and have turned a diverse upland environment into an ecological desert.


My bold underline.

I would personally rather eat less meat & see a return of some of that lost habitat to its former glory.
I would rather eat less meat & be able to photograph rare species of birds, insects & flowers than read about them in a dusty old book.
That's my choice.


I'm finding it difficult to follow their sources, as they have referenced the 9.7m figure but not the 3.9m, nor exactly when it was. I have found figures from 1900 for the whole of England & Wales (19.28 million sheep) and compared that with the figures for the whole of the UK in 2013 (22.6 million). That seems to me a more modest increase than is being suggested which could more than be taken up by the numbers of sheep in Scotland.

Personally I would rather eat more meat and encourage those birds, insects & flowers to become less rare. But that's just my choice.
I should have said I'd prefer they produced less in this instance.
I'm guessing those figures are the peak numbers when subsidy was still paid per head of livestock instead of per hectare.
I know one of the main reasons for the change was to limit over production, so maybe it worked.
The problem with environmental destruction is it tends to happen so slowly people don't notice until its to late.
A major development threat like a new town, airport runway or motorway & everyone is up in arms but slow erosion through bad land management doesn't appear on the radar.
Environmental considerations need to be much higher priority in all walks of life not just farming & not only environments like your ings.

It always strikes me as odd that a builder has a battle to develop a barn if there is a bat roost, but the neighbouring farmer can poison them wholesale with pesticides.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

So let's stop minimising meat. Pesticides are as widespread in non-livestock farming so let's concentrate on doing a good job & avoiding them by whatever means it takes and stop the wasted potential.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4260
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Quote:
Today on the overgrazed uplands of Wales there is so little nutrient in the soil than anything can barely grow and very little life is to be seen, other than sheep. Birds have mostly gone, wild flowers, shrubs and trees are no longer growing, and insects are barely present, due to the lack of plant species and the heavy use of insecticides.


Who writes this garbage,

The heavy use of insecticides on upland farms,clearly someone who has not spent much time in this environment.

I spent half my life on a Hill farm above the Swansea Valley,left in 1986,insecticides was one thing i never saw used,wild orchids were abundant in the several boggy area`s on the mountain,snipe,woodcock,skylarks,stonechat`s,lapwings,curlews,yellow hammers and numerous other birds were abundant,and most farmers turned their cattle out to the mountain to graze in the day,returning in the evening,due to lack of cattle grids,sheep were on the mountain for most of the year,returning in-bye on their Rhosfa`s/sheep walk`s/Heft`s.

Today,hardly any turn cattle on the mountain,even sheep are sparse,the well grazed mountain is nothing but scrub,sad to see.

Regarding nutrients in hill land,if these people had tried to reclaim poor hill land,they would have found that hill land is hungry land,and without the stock to return manure,it stay`s hungry.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 35505
Location: yes
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 15 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

the high pennines of west yorks are quite similar and have just the same changes you describe.
ps i dont know who writes such stuff but they really dont understand what creates the biodiversity they seem to admire.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 15 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Ty Gwyn wrote:


I spent half my life on a Hill farm above the Swansea Valley,left in 1986,insecticides was one thing i never saw used
Warble fly? Sheep scab?
Both used to be organophosphate chemicals (now banned) & very damaging & persistent in the environment.
Compulsory dipping of sheep was still in place in the 1980s so you most certainly did see them being used.
Farmers just used to pour the dip away into pits to seep into the watercourses after use AFAIA.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 10885

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 15 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The late Oliver Rackham doubts the existence of the so called Caledonian forest and notices that naturally the pine trees move around and are not very thick. There is a lot of rubbish talked about forestry as well as farming. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries authors decried the destruction of the forests in Britain, particularly in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex. These forests are alive and well in the 21st century when these are the most thickly wooded counties in England, and also support more coppice workers than virtually any other counties.

Ty Gwyn, I agree with you about the grazing. These uplands would probably have been naturally grazed by animals even before man started domesticating them. The flora has adapted to this, and plantation on them would probably not be very successful, mainly because of wind blow.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4260
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 15 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:
Ty Gwyn wrote:


I spent half my life on a Hill farm above the Swansea Valley,left in 1986,insecticides was one thing i never saw used
Warble fly? Sheep scab?
Both used to be organophosphate chemicals (now banned) & very damaging & persistent in the environment.
Compulsory dipping of sheep was still in place in the 1980s so you most certainly did see them being used.
Farmers just used to pour the dip away into pits to seep into the watercourses after use AFAIA.



You are correct,i got me pesticides and insecticides mixed up.

Yes of course these products were used,it was compulsory to warble wash,that`s why they got eradicated,well i`ve not seen a warble in a cow`s back for nearly 40yrs,
And i`d rather see them in a book than in a cow.
Did your Father show you how to get them out with an empty pop bottle?
Same with compulsory dipping,with the cost and work involved,nobody is going to heavy use of dip unless it was necessary.
Yes,used dip was poured out into pit`s to soak into the ground,even when Dieldrin was in dip before Organphosphate was introduced ,that was a bad move by authorities,when farmers were getting the same symptoms as Gulf Syndrome.

But don`t blame the farmer`s,blame the Government and Chemical companies for getting it licensed in the first place.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 15 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm not blaming anybody.
I'm saying it's time for a change,., & being treated like the enemy because that's what I think.
I want to see the farming industry prosper & hope that in the future there will be more & younger farmers not fewer & older.
I'm hoping farms will become smaller & more diverse not larger & more intensified.
I'm not the enemy.
IMHO DEFRA, the NFU, & the big agribusinesses they really represent are the enemy not people like me.

Rob said something earlier in this thread about not attacking but I really do think farming in particular has had an almost protected status.
The 'stewards of the land' thing is used with impunity by farmers & critisism is treated like a direct attack on the industry even when it's not.
In hindsight a lot of mistakes have been made in the past that we can rectify now if we want.

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