With environmentalism increasingly driving the agricultural land market in the UK, some farmers fear that a push that takes away land from production could cause major food security issues.
Rewilding is experiencing a rise in attention from affluent investors who are eager to showcase their ecological commitments.
However, some say that the government-backed strategy risks jeopardising England and Wales’ food production capabilities.
The Epoch Times talked to experts who said that conservation and climate change are increasingly driving the agricultural land market in the UK.
The UK government is pushing for land to be rewilded as part of efforts to protect native plant and animal species and cut the country’s carbon footprint.
Ministers in 2022 unveiled plans to restore 300,000 hectares of wildlife habitat in England by 2042, which it claimed would have “carbon savings” of between 25 to 50 kilotonnes per year, roughly equivalent to taking between 12,000–25,000 cars off the road.
According to government numbers, agricultural area (UAA) is 8.9 million hectares in 2022, accounting for 69 percent of the total area of England.
The government is also committed to a 30×30 global land (and sea) conservation target, a UN framework initiative for governments to designate 30 percent of their land as protected areas.
According to a 2022 report by the House of Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee, this will “require the designation of significantly more land for the purpose of nature conservation on land that currently has different or complementary purposes.”
It added that at “present it is not clear which sites are intended to count towards 30 by 30, or how the government plans to achieve the target.”
Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) plans to publish a map of what will count towards 30 by 30 before the end of the year.
Full-time fourth-generation farmer Ioan Humphreys, who has a farm in Wales with 32,000 free-range hens, and 500 acres told The Epoch Times that he believed that rewilding could create more pressure on the lands.
“We will have to import more food with less land, it’ll create more pressure on the lands, I don’t like the idea of it,” he said adding that his farm has been with the family since 1903.
“I am trying to do the best I can do to make the land as predictive as possible in a sustainable way, with as little fertilizer as possible, reusing manure to fertilise the land,” he said.