Organic farming better for wildlife
Study shows organic methods can help reverse farmland wildlife declines

Posted November 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:

  1. non-use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides;
  2. sympathetic management of non-cropped habitats such as hedges, ditches and ponds, and
  3. 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