Adapting to climate change

28 March 2011

Lord Framlingham made his maiden speech in the House of Lords on Thursday 24 March in a debate on a report by the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment about how EU agriculture and forestry should adapt to climate change.

‘Adapting to climate change: EU agriculture and forestry’, published last year,  made recommendations for the European Commission’s framework for action in adapting to climate change.

The report said that reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be defined by the need for ‘sustainable intensification’ of agriculture. In support of this goal, it called for a better research and development capacity related to climate change and greatly improved arrangements for advising farmers on implementing research findings.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (Liberal Democrat), who sits on the Committee, opened the debate. Lord Henley responded on behalf of the government.

Lord Framlingham

Lord Framlingham said the term forestry has different meaning in different countries to different people and organisations. Until recently, the term meant the planting and harvesting of softwood trees for timber, he said. Currently the term covers ‘everything from the great Kielder Forest to copses on our farms, and from ancient woodlands to urban forestry in Milton Keynes’ and now in many areas the ‘amenity value of woodland’ was considered to be as important as its timber value.

In an ‘increasingly hectic world’, more and more people were ‘turning to and appreciating the enjoyment provided by trees and the habitat that they create and preserve.’ Whatever the terminology, it was all about trees, Lord Framlingham said. ‘They take in our carbon dioxide and give us back their oxygen. They give us their timber and their fruits. They help to stabilise mountainous regions, are crucial in the battle against desertification and, on top of all this, they are a joy to behold.’

Whether grown in the UK, tropical rainforests or in developing world, all must do all they can to increase tree cover. ‘Regardless of the pros and cons of climate change, let us do the obvious and plant trees, protect rainforests,’ Lord Framlingham said. They should be treated with the respect they deserve, ‘not for their sake, but for our own.’

Further information

‘Adapting to climate change: EU agriculture and forestry’ looks at European Commission's White Paper, ‘Adapting to Climate Change: Towards a European framework for action’ (April 2009), and the accompanying paper on the challenge for agriculture and rural areas.

The term ‘maiden speech’ refers to the first time a new Member gives a speech in the House of the Lords. A maiden speech usually takes place during a general debate and is uncontroversial.

Image: iStockphoto

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