As you open the current issue of Resurgence & Ecologist, other things will be opening too – golden bird’s-foot trefoil, pink knapweed, meadowsweet and other flowers that thrive in natural meadows.
A good time to enjoy these is 6 July, National Meadows Day in the UK, when events are planned across the country to experience this fast-vanishing ecosystem.
Wild-flower meadows are indeed a wonder to be celebrated. By providing a home for a huge range of wildlife from fungi to snakes, bats and birds, they are an example of how agriculture can benefit the living planet.
Nature and agriculture
Since the second world war, however, vast tracts of grassland have been ploughed up to grow cereals, and today the UK has only 3 percent of the lowland meadows of some 40 years ago.
Species-rich grasslands provide benefits like carbon storage and water retention to prevent flooding, yet only 2 percent of the UK’s grasslands are classified as species-rich.
As governments declare climate emergencies, and a United Nations report warns that a million more species could become extinct within decades, the role of farming is under scrutiny like never before. But if we work together we can change things for the better. We explore some examples in the following pages.
Thembi Mutch looks at the future of the banana in Tanzania, and how much people rely on it, and Ed Davey explores how China’s dietary chioces impact the rest of the world.
In England, Harry Barton reflects on how the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union could provide an opportunity to put the right policies in place to benefit nature and agriculture.
Political will is also at the heart of our interview with former Irish president Mary Robinson, who praises the passion and energy fuelling the school strikes. Robinson said: “We need to listen and learn from the passion of our young people and show them that there is indeed a way for our political and economic systems to meet their cries for action.”
In our Ethical Living section, Anna Turns meets businesswoman Geetie Singh-Watson and finds out her recipe for environmental activism and good pub grub, and in Arts we discover that wild-flower meadows are not only a buzzing ecosystem, but also, for artist Jessica Albarn, a source of inspiration.
Opinions on farming and diet can be polarising, but as the environmental crisis threatens to snatch the very food from our mouths, we don’t have time for division and finger-pointing.
As Gareth Morgan, head of policy at the Soil Association, was quoted in a recent article, “farmers should be seen as part of the solution and must be supported to make the transition to climate-friendly farming solutions.”
Image: Birdsfoot Trefoil. LadyDragonflyCC - >;<, Flickr.