Moor Biodiversity Wanted

Appeals are being made for the city’s 1,000 acre Town Moor to play a greater role in combating the effects of climate change.

“There is a growing public call for the Moor to feature strongly in combating climate change,” says local councillor and Greening Wingrove & Arthur’s Hill chair, Nigel Todd.

Calls, he says, are coming from residents, councillors and pressure groups, with more tree planting high on the list of demands.

Manor Park councillor Matthew Folker recently called on the city’s Freemen to plant trees on Town Moor land, saying ‘significant headway’ could be made towards city targets by doing so. Blakelaw councillor Oskar Avery said existing tree lines could be increased to three or four deep, instead of one or two deep, removing any need to create forest areas.

Campaign group Save Newcastle Wildlife has added its voice to calls for ‘this important green space’ to be used to do more to create biodiversity in the city.

“The Town Moor has huge potential to better support biodiversity, mitigate for climate change and provide a more diverse and pleasant environment for people in Newcastle to enjoy,” said spokesperson Rachel Locke.

“We hope this important green space will be better utilised in the face of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis that faces us and future generations.”

The city’s Freemen have defended their commitment to tackling climate change, saying in the latest issue of the Freemen Magazine, that they are “acutely aware of their responsibilities to the environment and regularly review their practices”.

They have also hit back at critics of use of the Moor for grazing cattle. Whilst acknowledging the methane emissions cows make, they argue that their cattle produce less greenhouse gases than intensively farmed cattle, because of a mainly grass-based diet and the lack of environmental cost associated with growing and transporting cattle fodder.

“Our cattle have been there since the Middle Ages … It’s difficult to hold them accountable for climate change”, says an article in the magazine about the Town Moor’s ‘beneficial environmental impact’. “Keeping our cattle on ancient grassland is not on a par with chopping down the Amazon rain forest to grow food for cattle kept in sheds.”

Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has come out strongly in support of tree and hedgerow planting on cattle grazing land, as part of a strategy to ensure the UK farming industry is a global leader in producing ‘net zero’ emissions.

“In the NFU’s own plans for net zero agriculture, planting trees and hedgerows to increase carbon stores on farmland play a crucial part,” says president Minette Batters.

Speaking ahead of a planned ‘food standards rally’ in London next month designed to put pressure on Government, she said, “British farming can be one of the leading lights of post-Brexit Britain if the government chooses to become a global leader in championing sustainable, climate-friendly food that our farmers produce here. Farmers across the country are ready to rise to that challenge and we stand ready to work with the government on that journey.”