THE overriding message from speakers at the NSA's Breakfast Club's webinar was that 'we live in a diverse, spectacular and productive countryside'.

With just a few months until the UN’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) arrives in Glasgow for its annual summit, NSA’s September webinar acted as a starting point for the association’s work to promote the positive role that UK sheep farming has to play in the climate change crisis.

Chaired by NSA chief executive officer Phil Stocker, the meeting welcomed experienced sheep farmers John Pawsey from Suffolk, Hywel Morgan from Powys and Davy MacCracken, Head of Scotland’s Rural University’s (SRUC) Integrated Land Management Department, to the session, who all portrayed their views and experience of enhancing diverse habitats, providing food, shelter and conditions on farms that have enabled wildlife populations to thrive, alongside their productive, efficient and high quality farming systems.

Mr Stocker said: “For several generations, there has been an expectation to keep farms looking ‘tidy’. On the surface, this may have looked more appealing, depicting an image of a well-kept and managed environment – but views are changing.

"What we may have previously perceived as ‘shabby’ should now be considered a haven for a rich diversity of species and these habitats are now increasingly found across the many different landscapes in which sheep are farmed in the UK.”

The clear message highlighted by all speakers during the webinar was that the right balance between biodiversity and productivity on farm is essential, in order to sustain thriving habitats and support and protect nature.

Production of high-quality red meat is not compromised by this, but rather enhanced by the nature-farming synergy that consumers increasingly value. The passion shown for being able to daily observe wildlife being nurtured was hugely evident in the short presentations given by the farmers speaking.

The NSA is looking forward to further debating issues surrounding sheep farming and the environment in the lead up to COP26, including the October Breakfast Club webinar etitled Forgotten Faces: Recognising Rural Culture within the Climate Debate.

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