Go organic and save wildlife

15 August 2000

‘Go organic and save wildlife’

By FWi staff|

CONVERTING to organic farming could help reverse the decline of British wildlife, claims the Soil Association.

Studies of lowland organic farms found far more species than on conventional farms, reports the organisation which promotes and regulates organic farming.

It discovered 40% more birds, double the number of butterflies and 500% more arable plants on organic farms compared to conventional counterparts.

Crashes in insect, wildflower and farmland bird numbers in recent years are widely attributed to intensive agriculture.

Gundula Meziani, Soil Association policy manager, said “These recent findings confirm what we have known for a long time.

Organic farming has the capacity to reverse the current dramatic decline in farmland bird numbers.

She claimed the Ministry of Agriculture will only be able to reach targets for reversing declines by 2020 if it adopts organic farming.

The costs of widescale organic conversion should be far cheaper than implementing special conservation schemes for each species, she added.

Bird and butterfly data comes from a three-year study by the British Trust for Ornithology (1998), and a two-year study by Ruth Feber.

The figure for the increase in arable plants comes from the study “Rare arable flora survey” by Kay and Gregory1998-99.

Increased pesticide use and the switch to winter-sown cereals over the past 30 years has led to a 35% decrease in farmland bird numbers, says the RSPB.

Changing land use patterns in the past century have led to the loss of 20% of insect species in parts of Britain, according to a survey for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

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