Blogger: Rachael Murray, Projects Officer

The colour green has, in recent years, been adopted as the hue of choice for endeavours including environmentally friendliness, recycling and energy efficiency.  It is a tone imbued with an inherent sense of ‘goodness’; to be ‘green’ is to be kind to the world. Isn’t it?

I’m going to have to make a confession.  Before I worked for the RSPB I was unaware of the huge problems that our environment faced.  In fact, sometimes, as I drove in my car, puffing out carbon dioxide indiscriminately all over our struggling world, I used to see the abundance of green fields that line our country’s roads, and say to myself ‘I don’t know what they’re all worrying about, there’s loads of green everywhere, and green is good!’. 

At the time, there was a fatal flaw in my assessment of the situation. What I didn’t realise is there is a right kind of green, and a wrong kind of green. 

The right kind of green is rich and abundant, its diversity providing a home to a wide variety of creatures.  The right kind of green forms an essential part of our planet’s eco systems, for me, bringing to mind ancient woodlands replete with birdsong, lush wildflower meadows abuzz with insects and verdant rainforest, with an unmistakable soundtrack provided by its vibrant inhabitants.  The right kind of green also comes in more modest disguises than the aforementioned natural wonders, but is no less wondrous for that. The key to the right kind of green is variety. 

The wrong kind of green exhibits a multitude of shades, but that is where the variety ends.  It lacks that rich tapestry, that web of life. The wrong kind of green comes as a result of man’s intervention, including overzealous development in the wrong places. The wrong kind of green is spreading.  Like a growth, it is smothering areas that could sustain an abundance of our best-loved species, and some we’ve never heard of to boot.

But, like any good story, there is a hero in this one.  Across the UK are a growing group of farmers committed to wildlife friendly farming.  And with farmland covering around 70% of UK land, with the right support, they are in a position to create a whole load of the right kind of green, whilst maintaining healthy businesses.

Take Nicolas Watts, a farmer in Lincolnshire.  His farm includes insect-rich meadows and nectar flower mixtures, arable plants flourishing in cultivated strips and seed rich habitats from sacrificial cereal crops for birds. He has created a wildflower meadow on an ex-mineral extraction site with some great plants for butterflies and other pollinating insects. Common spotted orchid, viper’s bugloss, yellow rattle, greater burnet, yellow loosestrife and ox-eye daisy are amongst the many plants species found on Nicholas' farm. Now that’s what I call the right kind of green.

Nicholas is the Eastern Region’s last farmer standing in the annual RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.  The award celebrates the fantastic work farmers are doing for wildlife, and every vote cast supports wildlife-friendly farming throughout the UK.  So why not show your support for some of our real green heroes by voting here. You have until 31 August, tomorrow, to tell us which farmer you think deserves to win the Nature of Farming Award. We think Nicholas is best but then we are biased.

In the words of Kermit, it is not easy being green.  But there are loads of fantastic farmers out there, like Nicholas, doing their bit, and inspiring us all to join in.  And that definitely gets my vote.

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