Leading global sustainable farming organisation, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has today (26 March) released its latest Global Impacts Report, showing the continued progress of LEAF Marque certified businesses in delivering more sustainable, climate positive farming and food systems.
Showcasing the achievements of its growers, the report highlights the steps being taken to meet important global targets as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. These include reducing carbon emissions, building healthier and more productive soils, delivering better air and water quality and enhancing biodiversity.
In the UK, nearly half (45 per cent) of all fruit and vegetables are produced sustainably by LEAF Marque certified businesses, including the majority of leeks (98 per cent), broccoli and celery (95 per cent) and lettuce (90 per cent).
Globally, 299,185 hectares of land is producing LEAF Marque crops with cereals and horticulture being the two largest sectors. The report also reveals continued growth in the flower and ornamental sector.
Launching the report, Tom Green, LEAF Marque chairman, said: “With farmers from 21 countries worldwide being certified LEAF Marque and 45 per cent of UK fruit and vegetables being produced on LEAF Marque farms, this report tells an encouraging story.
“These numbers not only recognise the management practices used on those farms and the demonstrated incremental benefits for sustainability but, critically, they also provide independent assurance to the many brands, retailers and consumers that are supplied by those producers. I would like to thank our many supply chain partners and farmers, whose commitment and leadership enables us, together, to continue to ‘raise the bar’ for the good of our planet and future generations.”
Jenny Clark, assurance manager, added: “The achievements of our growers outlined in this report show that LEAF Marque certification is one of the most effective frameworks for mobilising advances in more regenerative, sustainable farming across the globe. It is accelerating incremental improvements at an individual farmer level, which, collectively, are driving profound reforms in food production.
“Overwhelmingly, the message of this report is one of transformation and positive change. I am continually inspired by the willingness of our growers to embrace change and adapt to challenges. They can be very proud of their achievements. Together with the determination of the supply chain to support forward thinking farmers, we are making real and lasting differences to addressing the climate emergency and the sustainability of the world’s farming and food systems.”
The report comes as LEAF recently launched its new ten-year strategy ahead of its 30th anniversary later this year.
LEAF Marque certification forms a cornerstone of the organisations ambitions to drive change at a grassroots level by developing and demonstrating regenerative, agro-ecological farming approaches, environmental enrichment and leadership in education and engaging society - in the UK and across the globe, the organisation said.
LEAF chief executive, Caroline Drummond, MBE, concluded: “2021 is a hugely significant year for farming and a critical year for climate action, with the UN Global Food Summit and COP26 in November. There is a real sense of the urgent need for change.
“In 2012, when LEAF established its monitoring and evaluation programme, we started providing information about our impacts, growth and the economic, environmental and social benefits of achieving and maintaining LEAF Marque certification. We continue to build on that work, which helps provide the scientific foundation for the transparent and impartial evaluation of LEAF’s effectiveness in delivering our mission and vision. By working with farmers to reward and incentivise change, and with retailers and consumers to ensure a market for environmentally sustainable food, LEAF is uniquely positioned to link landscape health with people’s lives and plates. The achievements in this report recognise all farmers who are demonstrating their commitment to leading positive change and action for the climate, nature, people and the economy.”
The report also highlights the extent to which LEAF Marque farmers are boosting biodiversity and protecting natural eco systems through the creation and maintenance of:
• 7,228,444m of hedges (the distance from the UK to Kenya)
• 1,062 ponds
• 221,860m of habitat banks (the distance from London to Sheffield)
• 383,768 in-field trees
• 1,999,434m of non-hedge boundaries
• 629 reservoirs
LEAF’s Global Impacts Report was launched on the final day of a week-long online gathering of LEAF Marque farmers, members, partners and supporters.