Valuing our life support systems – Workshop 1:
Balancing our options for rural land use. Food, biodiversity, sustainable biofuels and flood prevention
There are competing demands on rural land in Britain. The traditional focus of the agricultural regulatory system has been on achieving a balance between the production of food and protection of the environment, as much of our biodiversity is dependent on farming methods. However, as our agricultural systems develop and novel crops – potentially genetically modified – are introduced for purposes such as biofuels, the regulatory system needs to evolve. Any evolution of this system should explicitly consider potential benefits as well as risks, and allow us to explore all options to cope with the increasing demands on our rural land.
This workshop aims to inform the development of the agricultural regulatory system and broaden the debate beyond the tensions between agriculture and the environment to include other issues such as energy production, climate change, water quality and flood prevention. All too often other environmental goods and services provided by rural land, beyond primary food production, are overlooked for their economic value, yet these add substantial elements to GDP. A holistic approach to land management is required for the future, incorporating social, economic and environmental considerations. We aim to explore gaps in research, policy and the implementation of policy, which need to be addressed to advance this more holistic approach.
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