I am quite busy in my post-RSPB life but I do find I have more time to read things that I would have meant to read in the past, but around to which I would not have got. This report, Nature’s Tapestry, is a good example of something which I am glad that I can now enjoy more fully. It is the Grasslands Trust’s very first report – and sets a high standard for its successors to attain.
The report contains many fascinating fact about grasslands – and I like fascinating facts – but also contains several strong arguments – and I like strong arguments too.
Here’s one element that I would take out of the report. The government is now terribly keen on ecosystem services and there is plenty of evidence that semi-natural grasslands are pretty good at storing carbon in the organic matter in the soil and in the mass of roots below the soil surface. So, we are now supposed to value that carbon storage. In which case, what policy instruments does Defra intend to use to protect that value so that it is not carelessly tossed away in the rush to feed the world advocated by some elements of the farming industry?
Do we know what the economic value of grassland carbon is to Society? Should we find out? Who is going to fund that study? And in the meantime what should be done to protect the potential economic value of that carbon?
A good start would be to follow the Grassland Trust’s recommendations to: prepare a grasslands inventory of what’s what and where; notify as SSSI all surviving significant SSSIs; revise the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations so that they protect important grasslands.
Or does Defra have another route planned to reach a similar endpoint?
Have a look at the report online.