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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:

Yes, how did nature survive before humans came along? It is extraordinary, this idea of stewardship and dominion—this idea that humankind has to intervene to protect wildlife and ecosystems. We do not. We can do a lot to encourage the protection and to kick-start things, and we will always need a role as rangers to ensure that there are not too many conflicts between people and ecosystems. However, the idea that we are necessary to create healthy soils and healthy ecosystems—the best thing we can do in the great majority of cases is to remove extractive economies from the land and to let ecosystems recover. We need to bring back missing species, to take down fences, to kick-start woodland in places where there is not a seedbank left and stuff like that, but we need very little human intervention to get a healthy ecosystem going. While farmers are absolutely right to say that they need a healthy ecosystem to sustain their farming, we do not need farming to sustain a healthy ecosystem.