3, 2004: A joint English Nature and RSPB scientific
review comparing evidence about wildlife on organic
and equivalent non-organic farms has concluded that
organic farms are better for wildlife.
The review, published in the journal Biological
Conservation, concludes that a wide range of wildlife
including birds, bats, insects and wild flowers flourish
on organic farms.
In more than 50 comparisons it was usually, although
not universally, true that organic farms had more individual
wild animals and/or plants, including some declining
species such as skylark.
Some studies showed organic farms had a greater diversity
of wildlife than non-organic farms. The research concluded
that there were three main reasons for this:
- non-use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides;
- sympathetic management of non-cropped habitats such
as hedges, ditches and ponds, and
- a greater tendency for organic farms to be mixed
livestock and arable enterprises.
Mixed farms often provide the mosaic of different habitats
that wildlife needs to thrive in the farmed environment.
Alastair Rutherford, Head of Agriculture at English
Nature said, “Organic farming can make a genuine
contribution to the wildlife of England’s farmland.
This study confirms that consumers can be confident
that by demanding and buying produce from organic farms
in England they will help reverse the declining fortunes
of our farmland wildlife."
“Sue Armstrong Brown, Head of Agriculture Policy
at the RSPB said: "This study shows that organic
farming can encourage farmland wildlife. The findings
should hearten those already managing organic farms
with wildlife in mind, and inspire others keen to reap
the benefits of organic methods.
“Farmland bird numbers have plummeted over the
past 30 years and both conventional and organic farmers
have a role to play in reversing these declines.”
Read the entire paper "Does Organic Farming Benefit
Biodiversity" online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com