We’ve all heard of ‘Fair trade’ food, regularly encountering the logo in the windows of the coffee shops on our high streets, or on food packets, and most people will have at least a broad understanding of the concept. But, how many people have heard of ‘Fair to Nature’ food, accredited by Conservation Grade, or noticed the Bee that is present on the packaging of such foods?
This accreditation, first launched in 1985, was designed to reward the positive efforts of those farms that demonstrate the highest farming standards in relation to wildlife and biodiversity conservation through habitat creation and management. Presently, agriculture in the UK accounts for 69% of the country’s land area. Up until 1945, farming practices were largely sustainable, although the introduction of the Agriculture Act at this time, along with the end of World War II, changed the landscape permanently, with agriculture becoming production orientated and farmers encouraged to maximise yields. This resulted in the UK being more self-sufficient, but it came at a significant cost to the wildlife that inhabited these areas. Trends in 1,064 farmland species, published within The State of Nature report (2013), found that 60% of species has decreased over the last 50 years.
Conservation Grade through the Fair to Nature scheme aims to reverse this decline. For a product or organisation to be accredited by the scheme, the ingredients/product are required to originate from farms which comply with the CG Protocol and manage at least 10% of the area that they farm as:
- pollen and nectar habitats,
- wild bird food crops,
- tussocky and/or fine grass mixtures,
- annually cultivated natural regeneration or other habitats including hedges, ponds, woodland etc.
These farms are also only permitted to cut their hedges every third year to protect bird nesting habitats and food resources.
You can support this scheme, and our farmland wildlife, by purchasing items that include the Fair to Nature ‘bee’ demonstrating that they are licensed to this scheme, and includes such well-known brands such as Allison and Vitacress.