Contribution to the Environment
contribution to the environment can be measured in a number of
ways. Along with other features such as woods and forests, agriculture
shapes the landscape on which much of our leisure and tourism
industry is based. In some parts of the country this means cultivated,
relatively gentle landscape, while in others farming practice
results in the wider biodiversity and flora and fauna with which
we are all familiar. Some areas of Scotland are recognised as
needing particular protection. In those areas, farmers are encouraged,
and where appropriate assisted, to manage their land in ways which
preserve and enhance its natural heritage interest.
commissioned the Countryside Survey 2000 to find out about the
landscape and habitats of Great Britain. The Survey builds on
surveys undertaken in previous years (1990, 1984 and 1978) and
therefore assesses the changes in our countryside. The Survey's
• Plant diversity has increased in arable fields especially
in the boundaries of fields.
• Plant diversity continued to decline in the least agriculturally
improved grasslands of Great Britain.
• There was no significant difference in 1990 and 1998 estimates
of hedgerow length. There's some evidence that losses in the early
1990s have been reversed.
• Broadleaved woodland expanded by 9% in Scotland.
• The number of lowland ponds increased by around 6% between
1990 and 1998 in Great Britain.
• The biological condition of streams and small rivers improved
in Great Britain. Over 25% of sites improved in condition and
only 2% were downgraded.
• Streamside vegetation became more overgrown. Fen, marsh
and swamp increased by 19% in Scotland.
• More broadleaved woodland was created on formerly developed
land than was lost to new development in Great Britain in the
Rural Scotland and
farmers can also play a huge role in tackling climate change.
They can grow arable crops to produce biodiesel, and woody crops
for biomass production to deliver renewable heat and power. Likewise,
processing animal fats and crops into biodiesel can reduce Scotland's
carbon emissions significantly, and the development of biogas
technology to capture methane from slurry can deliver renewable
farmers can also provide a local food source which could, in many
cases, prevent produce (for example lamb from New Zealand or beef
from South America) from being needlessly transported to the UK
from the other side of the world causing environmental damage
in the form of 'food miles'.