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Genee is Supporting Land Restoration Efforts in the North East this World Environment Day

This year, World Environment Day is focusing on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience, with the slogan “Our Land. Our Future. We are #GenerationResoration”.  Since 1973, World Environment Day had been an opportunity to raise awareness of specific environmental problems and be a call to action. Land restoration typically refers to the process of halting degradation or rehabilitating degraded land, through activities such as reforestation, and soil conservation, among others. The primary aims of this are to enhance biodiversity and mitigate against climate change, because healthy land supports healthy ecosystems.

In 2023, the Environment Agency published their state of the environment report for soil, which outlined that almost 4 million hectares of soil are at risk of compaction, 2 million hectares of soil at risk of erosion, and intensive agriculture has caused arable soils to lose about 40 to 60% of their organic carbon. All of these occurrences are serious threats to soil health, and in turn affect our agricultural production in the UK and resilience to climate change. The knock-on effect of this is biodiversity loss, with habitat loss and land degradation being the leading causes for our decline in biodiversity.

Genee co-ordinates a Land Use Planning Group on behalf of Net Zero North East, exploring how the land use agenda can address the challenges of climate change. Net Zero North East’s evidence shows that 49% of North East England land is used for agriculture, and 12% of North East greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture. Land is a vital asset fundamental to all human activity, and its changing use over the coming decades will have a significant impact on our ability to address the climate and ecological crises whilst still producing food to feed a growing population. Therefore, greener management, restoration and rewilding of land within a blended farmed landscape will reshape the region as we embrace a green economy, reduce emissions, increase biodiversity and develop local farming systems to contribute towards food security. The land scape for land management is changing, with financial mechanisms being introduced that should drive investment in nature-based solutions and nature recovery.

The 2023 State of Nature report is the most comprehensive report on U.K. wildlife, and found that due to human activity, the UK now has less than half of its biodiversity remaining. Many of our clients are seeing their role in addressing the nature crisis and we have been working closely with a number of them to establish biodiversity baselines, action plans and deliver improvements on a small and large scale. Our work with Newcastle Hospital Trusts has enabled them to establish a baseline to work from and develop a 30 year biodiversity improvement plan that will help their local environment, benefit nature and offer access to nature for staff and patient well-being. We have also produced the South of Tyne and Wear Local Nature Recovery Strategy Stakeholder Engagement Plan, which will help engage all stakeholders to engage in the production of the much-needed strategy. Recently, we have helped Investors in the Environment develop a module for the nationally recognised environmental accreditation that will enable our public sector clients to meet their obligations under the Biodiversity Duty Reporting. To quote the Chief Executive of the RSPB, Beccy Speight, “We need to move faster as a society towards nature-friendly land and sea use, otherwise the UK’s nature and wider environment will continue to decline and degrade, with huge implications for our own way of life.”

As with everything we do at Genee we like to lead by example and really walk our talk. We recognise the importance of nature recovery, and the importance hedgerows can play. Hedgerows provide enormous benefits to the environment, such as carbon capture, habitats for wildlife and climate change mitigation such as alleviating floods, and for this reason the Committee on Climate Change has recommend that the extent of hedgerows be increased by 40%. Making sure we practice what we preach, Genee have been working on our own land management onsite, and in February 2024, we planted over 650 metres of native hedgerows with trees with help from the North East Community Forest on our office site to increase biodiversity and the carbon insetting capabilities of the land. We have also moved to a regenerative approach to our land management and are thrilled with the results after such a short period of time. We can all play our part in restoring nature from the smallest acts to major change and investment, Genee can help you make a start.


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