A leading scientist has slammed claims made in the State of Nature 2016 report that agricultural intensification is to blame for the decline in wildlife in the UK since the 1970s.
The report, written by over 50 wildlife organisations and with a foreword from Sir David Attenborough, said agricultural intensification is a leading cause of biodiversity loss in the UK.
But now Dr Jonathan Storkey, senior research scientist in the Agroecology Department at Rothamsted Research, has said it was wrong to focus on farming as one of the key drivers behind the decline in wildlife.
While he agreed changes in agricultural practices between the 1960s and 1990s did cause problems for wildlife, he said this was an ‘old story’ and policy since the early 2000s has had a much more environmental slant.
He added: “This has resulted in increased habitat creation including the planting of hedgerows and establishment of field margins to provide resources for farmland birds and pollinators.
“There has been a measure of success in turning the tanker from a head long pursuit of yield and productivity towards a more sustainable future that incorporates biodiversity and ecosystem services into the farmed landscape.
“Rather than use the report as an opportunity to remind the public of the past ills of agricultural intensification, therefore, it would have been more constructive to emphasise these recent positive developments in agricultural land use and so keep farmers onside.”