Renowned conservationist and author Jake Fiennes was the guest speaker at the annual Harvest Service and Lunch held on 13 October, in which he spoke about his vision for the future of agriculture, and how farming can help rebuild the environment.
“Agriculture is in my blood,” Mr Fiennes said, “it’s at the heart of everything I do.” Since 2018 Mr Fiennes has been the head of conservation at the 25,000-acre Holkham Estate near Wells-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast and is widely recognised as a leading national voice on farmland conservation.
The main idea that Mr Fiennes presented is that agriculture has a responsibility to try to produce food while reducing the impact on climate change, as well as understand the issues surrounding biodiversity loss.
He said: “Farmers, land-owners, and agri-businesses need to be encouraged, because they are the ones with the solutions.” He added that they must be convinced that small interventions put in place for the right reason, that don’t have huge impacts on your business, can have significant benefits to nature.
Mr Fiennes stressed the point that everyone needs to be committed. One farm improving their biodiversity and natural capital wouldn’t mean a thing unless their neighbour and their neighbour’s neighbour were doing it also.
A time of seismic change in British agricultural policy has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant difference very quickly, and Mr Fiennes believes that it is easily achievable to right all the environmental wrongs that were made in the past.
Mr Fiennes’ latest book ‘Land Healer’, published back in June, outlines his optimistic vision of how farming can save the countryside, and highlights the challenges of restoring wildlife to a countryside that was ravaged by decades of intensive agriculture.