Strengthened Land and Nature Motion Passes Overwhelmingly at General Synod


We’re pleased to share the news that the amended Land and Nature motion passed close to unanimously at the Church of England General Synod on Saturday 24 February. The motion 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.

The motion presented at General Synod asked 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 was incredibly welcome, one oversight was 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 was pleased to support a friendly amendment to the Land and Nature motion which was proposed by Revd Andrew Yates from the Diocese of Truro. Andrew’s accepted 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. 

In his speech, Andrew recognised work already being done by the Church Commissioners and their tenants, but highlighted areas where it would be good to hear more including about improvements to the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and the possibility of sharing templates and strategies for working with farm tenants which could also be useful to dioceses. He also encouraged more collaboration in areas where both the Commissioners and dioceses own agricultural land.

The proposer of the motion, Rt Revd Graham Usher (Bishop of Norwich), welcomed the amendment, saying he was ‘immensely grateful to Andrew Yates for bringing this amendment which I fully support… this will hold the Church Commissioners to account but also celebrate the immense work that the Rural Assets Team of the Church Commissioners do on our behalf.’

You can watch the full debate here.

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 (for examples, see our earlier blog).

We are grateful to all Operation Noah supporters in the Church of England who asked their Synod representatives to support the main Land and Nature motion alongside Andrew’s amendment. We’re thankful to everyone involved in proposing and amending the motion and look forward to hearing more good stories of work to benefit biodiversity, climate and people across the church.

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