Examination of Witness

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2020.

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George Monbiot:

There are a lot of things we need to save ourselves from at the moment, and the most urgent is climate breakdown and ecological breakdown. Huge tracts of this land are scarcely feeding us at all. There are very large areas of land where you have one sheep per hectare, per 2 hectares or, in some places, per 5 hectares. That is not producing food in any appreciable amount, yet that land could be used to draw down large amounts of carbon, to stop the sixth great extinction in its tracks, for the restoration of wildlife and ecosystems, or to prevent flooding. There is a whole load of ecological goods—public goods—that that land could be delivering, but it is not currently delivering them, because it is producing tiny amounts of food instead. We are probably all against urban sprawl and believe it is a bad thing because it takes up huge amounts of land while delivering not many services for the people who live in a sprawling city. We should be equally concerned about agricultural sprawl, which takes up far more land.