The UK could slow down climate change by converting land used for animal farms to forests, says research.
Harvard University found in a new study that the UK could slow down the devastating effects of climate change and still be able to grow enough protein for the whole population by turning animal farms into forests.
The study claims that if the land currently used for animal farms and growing animal feed crops will be turned into forests, then it would be able to soak up 12 years worth of carbon emissions.
“It’s essential for the UK to have a Paris-compliant food system and right now it’s far from that,” Dr Helen Harwatt from Harvard University, lead author of the study, told Vegan Food and Living.
“Our research shows for the first time that it’s possible — and could deliver multiple benefits to the UK population, including more provisions of healthy food, and more forest areas for recreation.”
“The new habitats would also create opportunities to tackle the wildlife crisis by reintroducing wildlife, such as beavers, turtle doves and lynx — which is also great news for a nation of animal lovers.”
Co-author Dr Matthew Hayek from Harvard University added that the UK is well suited for growing forest to combat climate change as forests covered the UK hundreds of years ago.
“Most grazing occurs on pastures that would return to forests if left untouched by humans and farm animals,” he said.
“Forests not only pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but also provide a range of co-benefits such as water filtration, flood defense and greater soil carbon capture — which will all become even more important as the impacts of climate change increase.”
“While there are huge opportunities to diversify farming and food production on croplands, many pasturelands in the UK are better suited for shifts to reforestation than they are for crop production. This needs to be supported by addressing the financial and social barriers.”
The new research in Harvard University will be launched at the Grow Green Conference in the British Library today, where animal farmers who turned vegan will speak about their vegan journey as well as vegetable farming.