The second half of the conference started with a panel discussion and questions from delegates. Topics included:
- Carbon offsetting in the UK. Of course this doesn’t address the issues at source, but for those activities that are not easily adapted such as essential flights or car use, at least having projects in the UK would allow us to engage with them first hand.
- The private and financial sectors have a massive role to play. Corporate policy and brand/image can be pivotal in making changes on a large scale. The business to business relationship is very different to that of the business to consumer, and companies need to be recognised for doing the “right thing” within their industry
- Changes at consumer level are vital. For example, here in the UK, we spend 8-10% of our income on food, whereas in Spain it’s 27%. Rethinking our allocation of resources to support more sustainable farming would help, but we do need to be sure our money is reaching the producer. Buying direct from the farm, or via a local butcher/grower who is buying direct from the farm is a way to do so (see my previous post on Hodmedod’s)
- Localism. Looking to reawaken a sense of appreciation and potential of what we have in our immediate environment and pooling resources to maximise benefits.
- It is important to recognise the value of the arts in communicating with the wider public as however compelling the science, it doesn’t always relate to the general population in a way that makes us feel it is part of our problem/solution.
There was then an opportunity to Ask the Experts – rooms allocated depending on the various areas covered from Natural Processes, Natural Capital, Food and Farming, Resilient Communities and Nature Recovery Networks. I wanted to go to all of them!
The final part was a session with Chris Sandom about how we can support and utilise various environmental projects, and what we felt we could do as individuals. This was really interesting as we had a poll on a number of questions about how much we had to start with, and whether the conference had inspired us to change, and if so, how much and where in our lives. Most of us there were already engaged with helping how we could, but the majority of us felt we could do more – some by a great margin. This was powerful to me as it really made me think about what I could do, as I think there is a danger of complacency if we already do all we feel we can such as reduce plastic use, recycle, purchase sustainably produced food, and limit our driving.
This was brought home by the final speaker, Tor Lawrence, CEO of Sussex Wildlife Trust, who after thanking our brilliant contributors and speakers, reminded us that the conference was categorically not about getting together to just talk about things, but to come up with an action plan. A suggestion was made that we could do something at a county level as most of us were there from East and West Sussex, as that area is large enough to have an impact, but manageable to visualise, and we already have some amazing projects such as Knepp Estate and the Help our Kelp initiative. This is an ongoing discussion and I am pleased that I have the opportunity to be part of it. It was an incredibly energising day and thank you to Fran, Julia, Chris, and all the people who made it happen. If you are interested in finding out more, do check out the #LandscapeInnovation hashtag on Twitter.
This brings me on to where I feel I can make a difference:
- I now offer a 25% discount on course prices for 14-21 year olds, and/or university students
- I will set up more bait hives to collect wild/feral swarms to ensure we protect this valuable resource of hardy local bees
- My Gardening for Bees and Wildlife course will emphasise the importance of ALL insects not just pollinators
- I will increase the amount of insect-friendly plants, and shelter/nesting spots for insects in all the apiary sites I manage
- I will give away packs of my own saved flower seeds rather than bought/marketing packets
- I will offer a 25p refund on my returned honey jars
- The Sustainable Beekeeping posters I produce are carbon-neutral and posted in plastic-free cardboard tubes, secured with paper tape
- I am arranging a special session to discuss regenerative beekeeping with my students/fellow beekeepers as to how we can promote the keeping of honeybees as protective and enhancing in a more progressive way rather than “beewashing”
Happy to discuss further ideas with other beekeepers/landowners!