Written by: Kirsty Tait, NFFN Sustainable Lead for Scotland
‘Butterflies and moths!’ – we exclaim when we finally spot one. We urge the kids to look and tell us what colours and patterns they see. But despite our hard efforts, we didn’t spot many when we visited our tenanted family farm in Scotland. There has been a noticeable decline of butterflies and moths in our landscape and spotting them now has become a special occasion.
Last month’s team visit to Cambridgeshire was a memorable experience, owing to the spectacular display of pollinators on the farm of our UK Chair, Martin Lines, including at nearby Hope Farm. There were hundreds of butterflies and moths working hard to help pollinate crops, working alongside many other insects and bugs who have a home on these nature-friendly farms. Fields were humming with life and buzzing with the sounds of busy pollinators and it fondly takes me back to my memories of harvest time as a child. Sadly, the air feels thinner with their growing loss.
The recent publications of the UN’s IPCC report – the first major review of our climate since 2013 – states the change in our climate as “unequivocal”. The report states that the Gulf Stream – upon which all farmers and crofters in Scotland rely upon – is weakening and it spells out an urgency for action that the world can surely no longer ignore.
Before joining the NFFN as Sustainable Lead for Scotland, I worked with rural and urban communities, and in land-use, for two decades and I know all too well that we need solutions where humans and nature can thrive together. Farming with nature is a chance to mitigate climate change, but first, we need to recognise farmers and their time-honoured relationship with the land. Farmers and land managers play a vital role in ensuring natural habitats and carbon stores are returned to good condition.
Nature-friendly farming, in diverse ways, has the potential to make lasting changes for the good of people, nature and our planet. But to farm or produce food in a nature-friendly way requires security and longevity. Agricultural change can be daunting for existing landowners, farmers and crofters who work under tight financial margins and change can be difficult unless you own land or have the certainty of tenure.
As we live in a time of short- and medium-term farms and smallhold tenancies, solutions need to be found that don’t just result in a higher concentration of land ownership & management. There are many farmers, crofters and growers who have the drive, passion and knowledge required, but no land security to put this into practice. As the recent Farming for 1.5 report: From Here to 2045 argues – we must find ways to transition that ‘leaves no one behind.’
I’m delighted to join the pioneering & creative farmers, crofters and growers of the NFFN to support and grow the network in Scotland. Change only happens through collaboration; by pulling together and collectively influencing policy change. NFFN is not just nature-friendly, it is people-friendly and is based on encouragement and sharing of skills, knowledge and experience.
Above all else, NFFN has hope and vision, and although the change required can seem daunting, the impact is almost immediately visible. I’m looking forward to working with our existing partnerships, forging new ones and supporting more farmers, crofters and growers to rediscover how working alongside nature can directly tackle our climate emergency.