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Organic farmers make a difference for English wildlife 3rd August 2005


organic farming © Lisa Norton/CEHA research team which includes three scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) has conclusively shown that organic farms provide greater benefits for a range of wildlife including wild flowers, beetles, spiders, birds and bats than their conventional counterparts.

Lisa Norton, Rick Stuart and Les Firbank from the CEH research site in Lancaster joined forces with the British Trust for Ornithology (Thetford) and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Univerorganic farming - hedgerow © Lisa Norton/CEHsity of Oxford) to conduct the largest and most comprehensive study of organic farming to date.

Dr Lisa Norton, who carried out the work on plants and interviewed a large number of the farmers involved in the study, said; “Organic farmers try to work with natural processes to increase productivity, using sustainable farming practices. Increased biodiversity is a happy by-product of this approach. For example, hedges on organic farms are kept in good livestock-proof condition, as livestock are often an important part of the organic farming system. Typically, these hedges are full of native, berry-producing shrubs, which are great for insects and the birds and bats that feed on them.”

The results of the five year study, “Benefits of organic farming to biodiversity vary among taxa”, are published this week in the Royal Society Journal, Biology Letters.


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