20

Feb

2024

Good News about Biodiversity, and Next Steps for the Church

 

It’s good to celebrate a positive news story coming out of the Church of England, and there are some inspiring examples of local churches, ground-breaking dioceses and farming tenants leading the way in supporting the wonders of God’s creation in all its biodiversity. 

The upcoming Land and Nature motion at Church of England General Synod (23-27 February) recognises and builds on the work being done in many parishes and dioceses to protect and value nature, and it aims to raise ambition more widely for biodiversity in the Church of England alongside the Church’s existing 2030 net zero climate commitment.

At Operation Noah, we’ve been delighted to hear about the work at St Andrew’s Luton which has launched a Community Garden as part of a local Peace and Wellbeing Hub which is located in a dense, urban setting. St Andrew’s and its partners have planted a small orchard of Bedfordshire fruit trees and will be growing food together as well as turning amnestied knives into garden tools.

St Andrew's Church garden with mixed group of people planting trees.
Photo from St Andrew’s Church, Luton

It was also wonderful to hear about the Apricot Centre, a sustainable farm and wellbeing centre in Dartington, Devon, which has expanded onto glebe land owned by the Diocese of Exeter. The Apricot Centre practise regenerative farming methods and have been increasing the carbon storage of their land as well supporting a wetland meadow and seeing an increase in bird species as a result.

There have also been some very positive case studies published by the Church Commissioners in their ‘In Conversation’ series. One such story is that of Richard Castle’s family, who have farmed parts of the Church Commissioners’ Rochester estate for over 70 years and have made impressive improvements to the marshes there, attracting lapwings and even inspiring Natural England and the Environment Agency with their work.

The motion being presented at General Synod asks dioceses and local church bodies to take further steps to support biodiversity, drawing on targets set by A Rocha’s rapidly expanding Eco Diocese and Eco Church programmes. However, while this new General Synod motion on Land and Nature is incredibly welcome, one oversight is the lack of any new steps for the largest CofE landholders, the Church Commissioners, who own 82,000 acres of farmland and 92,000 acres of forestry. 

Operation Noah is pleased to support a friendly amendment to the Land and Nature motion which is being proposed by Revd Andrew Yates from the Diocese of Truro. Andrew’s proposed amendment asks the Church Commissioners to report back to Synod on their progress with supporting biodiversity on their agricultural and forestry land, to say more about their sustainable farming work with tenants, and to show leadership on these issues by sharing learning and support.

We would encourage any Operation Noah supporters in the Church of England to ask their Synod representatives to support the main Land and Nature motion alongside Andrew’s amendment. 

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