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Reform Magazine | December 2, 2021

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Kelp is at hand

Kelp is at hand

Andy Atkins of A Rocha UK considers nature-based solutions for climate change

The UK government, which will host the critical UN climate negotiations in Glasgow this month, has chosen ‘nature-based solutions’ as one of its five priorities. This is significant. It is the first time nature has been up there with emissions reductions and climate finance in the international negotiations.

This is a welcome development. The climate crisis is so imminent a threat to humanity and the rest of God’s creation that we must deploy all sensible means to address it. It is exciting that there is fast-growing official recognition that activities like restoring wetlands, forests, grasslands, underwater kelp forests, as well as changing farming and fishing practices, could make a major contribution to ‘sequestering’ carbon – extracting it from the atmosphere and locking it safely away. Not only does it show more holistic thinking from world leaders about how we can tackle climate change but it also builds a strong link with those other great environmental crises of our time – the accelerating loss of habitats, species and soil.

We’re not just talking about the Amazon basin or Great Barrier Reef; there is huge scope in the UK. Take kelp forest as an example. It grows naturally around many parts of our coastline. It provides habitat and food for a large number of marine species and it is up to 20 times more effective at sequestering carbon than land-based forests. There used to be 177km² of kelp off the coast of Sussex alone, but by 2018 this had diminished to just 6 km² thanks to harmful fishing practices among other things. Now a project between West Sussex County Council and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) is working to restore it, creating habitat for up to 1,000 marine species.

Or look at simple farmland. A 2,000-acre estate in West Sussex is looking at a scheme to change the way it does arable farming. This would involve using a mixture of ‘heritage’ wheat, new sowing systems and nitrogen-fixing plants such as clover under the wheat crops. A survey of the estate recently found that the retention of soil organic matter from their creative cropping systems had the potential to sequester over 23,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide…

Andy Atkins is CEO of the Christian nature conservation organisation A Rocha UK, and Chair of the Climate Sunday initiative

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This is an extract from an article published in the November 2021 edition of Reform

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