Farming in a more nature-friendly way could play a big role in ensuring a green recovery.

According to the Nature Friendly Farming Network manifesto, it can help improve public health, rural economies and communities as well as underpin food security and tackle the nature and climate crises.

Now NFFN supporters are calling on politicians to commit to strong environment and agriculture policies which recognise nature-friendly practices as a central part of food production, not just an additional ‘nice to have’.

NFFN Scotland chair Michael Clarke commented: “The future government will be presented with a unique opportunity to deliver a clear roadmap and ambitious policies that put nature and community resilience at the heart of food production. With the right tools and support in place, farmers can lead on reversing biodiversity loss and the transition to a net-zero economy”.

The farmer and crofter-led organisation has laid out five key asks of the next government:

  • Ensure agricultural policy reflects the urgency required to address the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss. Centre public money for public goods at the heart of agricultural policy to ensure environmental benefits;
  • Commit to zero carbon agriculture by 2045;
  • Maintain strong environmental and animal welfare standards. Put pressure on the UK government to ensure Scottish farmers are not undercut by lower quality imports;
  • Invest in and promote local food systems. Create a system which enables farmers to earn a fair return whilst ensuring food is healthy, affordable and sustainably produced;
  • Educate on food, farming and nature. Provide the public and farmers with education, support and training to develop knowledge and confidence in the role of healthy soils, thriving farm ecosystems and the role of nature in ensuring business resilience.

Skye crofter Phil Knott adopted a nature-friendly approach when he took over his croft in 2015 and since then has planted new hedgerows and 1700 trees. As a result of these changes, the biodiversity on the farm has significantly improved.

“All farm and croft types, regardless of scale or system, can find the sweet spot where it’s possible to maximise income by balancing food production and improving nature," he said. "As more farmers look to diversify, now is the time for politicians to recognise the importance of farming with nature, not against it. I will be asking my MSP to prioritise the survival of Scottish farm and croft businesses by delivering nature-friendly farming policies, and I would like to encourage farmers across Scotland to do the same.”

Agreeing on the importance of bringing back biodiversity was upland livestock farmer, Denise Walton, of Peelham Farm, Foulden, Berwickshire: "Bringing biodiversity back means bringing life and fun back to the empty spaces, empty fields, silent hedges and dead soils. It ultimately improves ecosystem resilience, without biodiversity there are no ecosystems. We want to see more species, more life on our farm.

"Ask yourself if there were animals you used to see on your farm and if you would like to see them on your farm again, what might you need to do this?"