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“The UK’s wildlife is better studied than in any other country in the world, and what the data tells us should make us sit up and listen.” These were the words of the RSPB CEO Beccy Speight in response to this month’s landmark State of Nature report. As the best available snapshot of how UK wildlife is faring, the report makes for sobering reading.

Using over 50 years’ worth of data, it came to the startling conclusion that one in six species are now at risk of being lost from Great Britain. It brought home the need for urgent action across food brands, retailers, farmers, shoppers and governments.

The evidence points to two key drivers of nature loss: the intensive way in which we manage our land for farming, and the continuing effects of climate change. Given that nature underpins our ability to produce food – and its loss is one of the biggest threats to long-term food security here in the UK – we cannot afford to push our wildlife to the brink any further.

There is no denying that pollinating insects, for instance, play a critical role in food production. They have decreased by 18% on average since 1970. The study found species providing pest control such as the two-spot ladybird have also dropped by more than a third (34%). With pollination services alone worth millions of pounds to UK agriculture, it simply does not make business sense to leave nature in freefall.

Thankfully, there are solutions, and many brilliant and tenacious nature-friendly farmers are already leading the charge without losing out on profits. At the RSPB’s Hope Farm, for instance, nature is a much welcome by-product of a resilient profit-making farm. Demonstrating the art of what is possible, food production here functions alongside measures to benefit wildlife. The results have been astonishing among breeding bird populations alone, which have increased by 177% since the farm’s transition to working with wildlife in mind.

With 71% of the UK’s land managed by farmers and other land managers, we have the opportunity to turn the state of UK nature around – and stand to lose the most if we fail to act.

That’s why the RSPB, through its Fair to Nature scheme, is providing food businesses with the means to act on wildlife declines. By signing up, brands commit to sourcing ingredients from Fair to Nature certified farms, where farmers dedicate at least 10% of their farmed land to a range of habitats that have been proven to reverse wildlife declines, such as wildflowers for pollinators and beneficial predators, seed-rich crops to feed farmland birds, and field boundaries and margins providing ‘wildlife corridors’ around the countryside.

This addresses a clear consumer need. As many as two-thirds (67%) of adults are concerned about the decline in the variety of UK wildlife in the past 50 years [Ipsos Mori, March 2023] and this concern is only likely to grow in the face of the worrying declines highlighted by the State of Nature report. Now is the time to answer the calls of both our precious wildlife and the nation’s nature-lovers.

The food and farming system here in the UK stands to fail if we do not redress the balance with nature. We must provide solutions for customers who are hungry for change.