Key Points from the Thematic Hearing on Food, Land and Sea, 22nd November

Key Outcomes

  • We need a Devon Land Use Framework – a strategic plan to assess and bring regional coherence to implications of land use choices, helping to resolve conflicts of land use, bringing key partners together.
  • We need greater education and knowledge transfer so that people are informed at all levels.
  • We need to establish carbon offsetting verification mechanisms for Devon, to incentivise and fund carbon sequestration – Devon Carbon investment platform.
  • Processing and markets for local timber need to be enhanced.
  • Local food supply chains need greater support in the form of provision of distribution and retail hubs and public procurement.
  • Tools – We need to know what ours baselines are and what tools we should be using. We need to be able to have comparable data and methods for quantification.
  • Lobby for national clarification of farming subsidies and alignment of subsidies and national legislation with need to achieve net zero carbon and nature recovery.

Key ActionsBarriersOvercoming the Barriers
Establish a Devon Land Use Framework to align action on nature recovery, carbon sequestration, agriculture and all other land uses incl. renewables and built environment.·Cost to develop and maintain
·Who to develop and maintain?
·Complexity
· Lots of the info for the land use framework is available already e.g. magic.gov.uk ….Ecological Site Classification, Forestry commission sensitivity maps.
· Use must be integrated with first-hand knowledge of the land.
· Could ensure framework for offsetting for new developments so not piecemeal.
· Ensure farmer involvement in developing so that it is not perceived as an imposition.
Funding the shift:
1. Valuing services from land; nature;
biodiversity, resilience, carbon sequestration and soil fertility.
2. Lobby for alignment of subsidies and national legislation with need to achieve net zero carbon and nature recovery.
3. Defining agricultural and land use practices which merit public funding support and embodying these in new ELMs
(Environmental Land Management) schemes funded nationally using whole farm approach.
4. Establishing carbon offsetting mechanisms to sequester residual carbon emissions from activities that have no viable alternative.
5. Establishing measurement for carbon sequestration.
· Costs and difficulty of establishing agreed practices e.g. agro-ecology approach, reduction of fertilizer/pesticide application, hedgerow managements, restoration of peat bogs and wetland etc.
· Costs to registering carbon offsetting schemes and confusing process.
· Smaller projects not eligible for many existing carbon offsetting schemes.
· We have no carbon units registered currently in Devon.
· Carbon sinks can be quickly lost through land use change.
· Lack of tools for establishing baselines for carbon sinks in landscape.
· Leadership deficit.
· Measuring carbon sequestration could be expensive and variable, even within a field.
· Overdependence of funding on carbon could lead to loss of biodiversity and resilience.
· Sequestration per annum in vegetation
needs to be estimated accurately.
· Controversy over whether offsets should be sold privately or sequestration funded as part of move to zero carbon Devon.
· Funding to set up carbon sequestration accreditation
systems locally: creation of Devon carbon investment
platform – economy of scale. Speak with Environment Bank?
· Creation of a carbon guarantee – a guaranteed price for carbon.
· Creation of a realistic level of support for defined practices nationally
· Many habitats in Devon with potential for accreditation and codes as verifiable carbon sinks: Woodland carbon code, Peat code, culm grassland.
· Devon Scheme must recognise smaller offsetting
projects not too bureaucratic and at lower cost to ease uptake.
· Any regional payments must be informed by national situation.
Reduce Emissions from Livestock· Nuance needed
· Resistance reduced numbers of livestock –
both producers and consumers.
· Uncertainty around what are sustainable levels of livestock.
· Some land more suited to pasture than arable or horticulture, though potential for regeneration and sequestration.
· Perception that reducing feed inputs may lead to reduced profit per land, though this not necessarily accurate.
· Kind of livestock – utilise breeding research
· Management of livestock e.g. utilise feed research, for
methane reduction.
· Less input intensive livestock management, eg pasture fed
· Polluter pays principle – negative social & environmental impact of intensive farms on immediate environment should be reflected in payments and import charges reflect pollution cost of imported meat.
Halt Soil degradation and repair degraded soils· Lack of dissemination of research and knowledge on what is working well in farming.
· Lack of availability of support and tools for farmers and land users: Soil Organic Matter Tool wanted.
· Soil erosion & subsequent water pollution – increased risks due to increased rainfall & intense rainfall events.
· Increase carbon averages over the landscape via
increased soil carbon.
· Incentivise farmers to improve their soils – benchmarked against how soil should be.
· Be comfortable with a degree of uncertainty when
accrediting soil carbon credits.
· Increase support for farmers. Facilitate farmers to
share best practice e.g. use of diverse leys, use of clover, better rotations, cropping choices – relatively quick to change and little capital infrastructure investment required. e.g. soils for profit scheme, soil alliance.
· Identify areas where tillage is not sustainable or where
particular soil management practices are not sustainable.
· Encourage no till methods where feasible.
· Natural capital accounting and reporting as a requirement for farmers and farm advisors– two balance sheets – financial and natural capital to incorporate value of natural capital into land value.
· Natural capital balance sheet to provide baseline data on each farm. 
· Share best practice for how and when to and when not
to travel on soils on farm – improve soil structure.
· Share grazing best practice to build soils.
· Funding for non till drilling machinery for farmers.
Mitigate pests and diseases key to adaptation· Diversity can be more complex to manage.· Encourage diversity of planting for resilience – trees
and crops.
Tree planting· Creating markets for local timber – local processing. The skills to manage, the machinery.
· Diverse tree planting needed for resilience but more challenging to manage economically.
· Lack of funding to manage the trees once they are planted.
· Current relationship of land value with tree planting problematic – higher land value = lower planting. Also you reduce the value of the land by planting trees on it – bank manager might not like it.
· Environmental impact on view.
· Loss of subsidies for taking land out of production.
· Current separation of farm support payments
between a) productive land and b) tree planting or environmental benefit is unhelpful – these land uses can be combined
shouldn’t have to select either or.
· Grey squirrels – damage to trees planted.
·Short farm tenancies off putting.
· Flailing of hedges prevents natural regeneration of trees.
· Interest in a South West forest.
· Agroforestry: often opportunities around the margins of the farm.
· Knowledge transfer: Soil Association FAB Farmers Scheme is showcasing examples of agroforestry +
Organic Research Centre.
· Silvopasture – trees combined with grazing.
· Hedgerows have traditionally been part of livestock feed in Devon.
· Encourage and incentivise farmers to allow trees in
hedges to mature rather than be flailed.
· Create the right incentives & subsidy regime – changes
to environmental payments vital.
· Allow areas to rewild – not all tree increases require active tree planting.
· Longer farm tenancies needed to give stability and
certainty, needed for perennial crops such as trees and long-term management of soils.
· Ash die back creates opportunities for our hedgerows as Ash replaced.
· Our trees grow quicker than in other parts of the
country.
· Cull squirrels.
Restore and protect degraded peatlands and wetlands
by
· reducing drainage esp. of uplands, -areas
designated in Land Use Framework –
and/or introduce beavers to slow water runoff and rewet land. (Helps reduce soil loss and flooding)
· Enhance landscape resilience through wetland and river restoration
· Reduce dredging
· Farmers don’t receive feedback for impact of
their measures
· Current lack of funding for land going out of production – support needed see above
· Set up peat code.
· Re-wet peatbogs.
· Support for farm diversification/tourism based on environment & biodiversity e.g. birders, forest schools, pollinators. SUDS – in Somerset
· Funding for environmental land management (see above)
· Potential for catchment negotiations – downstream stakeholders remunerate upstream landholders for
flood prevention – but tricky to establish direct link from measures to benefits
Ignite and foster public mind-shift& cultural change· Cultural norms and attitudes to the landscape – e.g. expectations of how many trees we have in landscape and where.
· Expectation that farmers will sequester the carbon overspill from the rest of our life
activities and consumption habits.
· Communities are declaring a climate emergency but then unsure what to do next.
· Need for nuance in messages conveyed to public.
· Lack of capacity in organisations with know-how for outreach and community work.
· Encourage and enhance greater public desire for trees in landscape and greater awareness for need.
· Connect with communities & give clear advice on how
to act effectively in response to the climate emergency.
· Create network of local ambassadors.
· Increase capacity for organisations with knowledge and skills to advise communities.
Knowledge sharing & transfer· Money & capacity.
· Existing advice paid for from particular
products or services being advocated hence
advice is not impartial.
· Fund impartial farm advisors without vested commercial interests e.g. Devon Wildlife Trust already provides farm advisors who advise on wildlife and
whole picture.
· Better connect researchers, educators and farm advisors.
· Ensure farm advisors have a minimum of certain qualifications – no minimum standard at present.
· Increase number of demonstration farms.
· Support new entrants to farming through combining
investment, mentoring and land access through collaboration with landowners.
· Identify and support people in their communities who have influence locally – local catalysts of change.
· Enhance feedback loop to farmers of how the changes they have made have benefitted biodiversity.
· Share grazing best practice.
Enhance local supply chains& shift consumption patterns· Limited access by people on low wages and facing food poverty.
· Access to local shops in some communities.
· Networks of local food hubs and distribution e.g. a covered market in Exeter with longer and more
frequent opening hours.
·Give producers distribution space in car parks – sheds
etc.
· Public procurement of local food.
· National: Tackle drivers for need for low food prices,
e.g. low wages& high cost of living.
· Encourage changes in food consumption French e.g. of
· Day of Taste.