Agriculture: Biodiversity and Flood Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 6 June 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of over-grazing on (a) biodiversity and (b) flood management.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Through the Environment Act 2021 we have set a world-leading, legally binding target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. To deliver these targets we will need large-scale habitat restoration and creation and we will also tackle pressures on biodiversity such as inappropriate grazing (which includes both overgrazing and undergrazing). The Biodiversity Targets Detailed Evidence Report assessed grazing as a pressure on natural and semi-natural habitats.

The Environment Agency is currently reviewing and updating the Working with Natural Processes (WWNP) Evidence Directory. This will include key findings from the Natural Environment Research Council natural flood management (NFM) research programme and learning from the EA’s £15 million NFM pilots programme. This is due to be completed by December 2023. The WWNP Evidence Directory explains the effectiveness of a range of different measures from a flood risk and ecosystem services perspective. Findings in the Directory include how reducing practices such as the intensity of livestock grazing, can lead to less surface run-off and more infiltration. Over-grazing can reduce or remove vegetation, reducing surface roughness which negatively impacts upon the slowing of overland water flows. It can also increase soil compaction reducing infiltration. Both of these can contribute to increased flood risk.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No1 person thinks not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.