NSA welcomes latest UN Global Land Outlook report

9th May 2022

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed findings from the latest UN Global Land Outlook report that recognises agriculture’s future role in feeding the global population as well as rebuilding biodiversity and restoring the damage of decades of human led pollution.

The latest report titled ‘Land Restoration for Recovery and Resilience’, assessed the degradation of soils around the world, surmising that right now, around half of the world’s population is affected by land degradation. The report found that worldwide food systems have been the single biggest cause of damage but through sustainable agriculture farmers can now be a part of reversing these effects.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Looking out of our back doors, often at a green and verdant countryside, it is easy to forget the damage that has been done. At home, our insect and bird populations are not what they were, and global land use change and degradation reveals why we cannot keep going as we were. That’s why this report is important – to help us reflect and see what is happening on a global scale. What is encouraging is the recognition this latest report gives to farming providing many of the solutions through sustainable agriculture and land management approaches.

“I believe farming in the UK is on the way to improving biodiversity, habitats, and reducing pollutants through a range of compulsory and voluntary measures. We still have far to go but increasingly we have living evidence that nature and farming can successfully co-inhabit while feeding a growing population. In a pastoral nation such as the UK sheep farming is well placed to be at the centre of this revolution through continuing with many traditional practices at the same time as adopting new technology and innovation.”

Sheep production across the world is based on providing consumers with high quality food and fibre products in a way that sustains the sheep industry and its families, supports rural communities, and maintains and enhances the capacity of the environment to provide for the needs of future generations. Sustainability to sheep producers includes the people and wider communities, animal health and welfare, environmental stewardship, and of course economies.

Mr Stocker continues: “The UK is fortunate to be in a position where farming actions that actively worsen the landscape and ecological profile are becoming less and those that rebuild and regenerate are becoming more prevalent. What we need, alongside environmental and a host of other aspirational targets, are targets that ensure we maintain food production as a key component of sustainability.”

NSA is committed to ensuring that sheep farming in the UK can be recognised as a net contributor towards sustainability for the health of our planet and for consumer confidence in our product. NSA is also committed to making this the case across the globe by working with international partners for the good of our global industry. Environmental sustainability requires sheep farms to demonstrate they are working towards climate neutrality, improving on farm biodiversity, and protecting natural resources such as soil health and water quality. Having these all under one goal recognises that all natural systems are interlinked, taking a holistic view of environmental sustainability.

Mr Stocker concludes: “It is crucial for the future to ensure there is positive communication between countries to ensure knowledge is transferred to tackle global issues that will affect our future natural world and our food supply, but also at home we’re doing what we can to ensure as consumers we reduce our food waste, choose UK grown produce where we can and reduce our food miles.”