A funding scheme for farmers to improve their natural habitats should be expanded to help them reduce emissions, says the Green Alliance and the National Trust.
The Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS), a model for creating private markets for ecosystem services from land, has already been proposed for services such as flood prevention and water quality improvements.
A new report out today (February 27) says that carbon reduction could be added to the package of services offered in the NIS, which it says will help the UK to meet its carbon targets and provide a new source of funding for farmers and land managers.
The government’s Clean Air Strategy, released last month included key policy announcements focussed on ammonia emissions, with farming accounting for 88% of all UK ammonia emissions.
However, the National Farmers Union (NFU) warned its members will need ‘considerable financial support’ to make some of the changes outlined in the Strategy and the report claims that in most circumstances, current funding arrangements mean tree planting, peat restoration and changes to agricultural management are not financially attractive.
Ammonia is emitted during storage, land spreading and deposition of manures and slurries, and from the application of inorganic fertilisers, and the strategy included a range of measures aimed at improving farming practices.
To reduce ammonia emissions, the strategy outlined new regulations that will require farmers to use low emission farming techniques to minimise pollution from fertiliser use, including low emissions techniques for spreading slurries and digestate on land such as by injection.
Patrick Begg, outdoors and natural resources director at the National Trust, said: ‘There’s increasing recognition that if the UK is to meet its long-term ambitions on climate change it needs to lock up more carbon in our soil, peatland and woods. Farmland needs to be at the heart of this approach, and farmers should be financially rewarded for this.
‘Our latest research shows that by “stacking up” these climate change benefits alongside improvements to water quality and better flood management, farmers can benefit through new Natural Infrastructure Schemes which unlock money from the private sector. But we need government to get behind this, including by acting as a buyer of services themselves, and also backing new carbon credit schemes.’
Read the report here.