Jordans Cereals’ biodiversity collab provides real-world model of working towards sustainable food system

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Jordans Cereals’ biodiversity collab provides real-world model of working towards sustainable food system

Related tags Jordans Cereals Biodiversity Sustainable food systems regenerative agriculture Uk government Associated british foods The Wildlife Trusts Leaf The Prince's Countryside Fund

The Jordans Farm Partnership (JFP) – spearheaded by The Jordans, Dorset & Ryvita Company, owned by Associated British Foods – provides a valuable example of how it is possible to make significant gains for nature without negatively affecting profits.

The partnership – now in its fifth year – is pioneering the UK government’s calls to encourage farmers to preserve habitat on their land.

At the end of last year, the government introduced a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme in England, the centrepiece of which will provide incentives for farmers working to create, manage or restore habitats on their land. However, the scheme has been widely criticised for failing to provide sufficient detail on how this new model will be executed.

According to Jordans, the JFP provides a valuable, real-world example of how change can be delivered on the ground.

The JFP is partnership between Jordans Cereals, The Wildlife Trusts, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, providing financial incentives to the UK farmers to manage at least 10% of the land they farm as habitats for wildlife.

Jordans initiated the collaboration in response to dramatic biodiversity decline in the UK, investing almost £2.4m and enlisting 31 farmers across 33 nature-friendly farms over the past five years. Every Jordans farmer works with an expert wildlife advisor from their local Wildlife Trust alongside LEAF to develop and deliver a long-term and holistic conservation plan including soil health, species management and flora and fauna assessment.

Stepping up to the mark

A recently published impact report by The Wildlife Trusts​ reveals that 692ha of woodland – almost double the size of Sherwood Forest – has been protected, along with more than 700km of hedgerows, 470km of field margins and 130km of waterways, all of which provide safe homes for endangered farmland birds, animals, fish and insects.

“We’re really proud to have been able to help protect such a large area over the last five years,”​ said Mia Hartwell, sustainability manager at Jordans.

“The figures quoted in the latest JFP report exemplify the commitment our farmers have to protecting nature on their farms, and the value of their partnerships with local Wildlife Trusts.

“They are also proof of the positive impact that nature-friendly farming could have on the UK if it was encouraged at a national level. 70% of the UK’s land is farmed – so how this land is managed has a significant impact on wildlife. The JFP requires farmers to set aside a minimum of 10% of their land for nature. In practice, the average is around 17%.”

Caroline Drummond MBE, CEO of LEAF, added there is no magic bullet to optimising more sustainable food and farming systems as it requires the collective efforts of farmers, food brands, government, retailers, NGO’s, scientists and citizens.

The JFP, however, is proving to be a powerful driver for change.

“The JFP is a shining example of the sort of partnership model that the government is calling for. As the farming industry faces continued uncertainty, it will be collaborations such as this, that will help build resilience in our industry and place farmers at the forefront of key climate change solutions,” ​said Drummond.

“It is encouraging to see the collective impact we are having in creating and maintaining habitat for wildlife in what can often be an inhospitable environment. Given that large swathes of the UK’s land is used for agriculture, farmers have a vital role to play in nature’s recovery,”​ said Craig Bennet, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts.

“That said, we still have a long way to go. We’re living amidst a nature and climate crisis, and know that to turn things around we need to see at least 30% of our land managed for nature’s recovery.

“The Jordans Farm Partnership showcases what can be achieved if we choose to farm in a sustainable way – something that would have a huge impact if adopted more widely – and we hope others will take note.”

Jordans Cereals – founded 1972 – today produces over 25 million packets of breakfast cereal a year consumed daily by the British public. The Bedfordshire-based company has been championing nature-friendly farming and protecting British wildlife for 35 years, ever since Bill Jordan co-founded the Conservation Grade farming scheme in 1985, designed to ensure a reliable supply of nature-friendly cereals. Together with The Prince's Countryside Trust, the company provides the Jordans Sustainable Agriculture Bursary for undergraduate students at the Royal Agricultural University and the University of Reading "to equip the next generation of farmers with the necessary skills to achieve what all of us want,"​ according to Keith Halstead, executive director of The Prince's Countryside Fund.

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