To save biodiversity, which is also necessary for the well-being of human societies, it is necessary to act starting from cultivated fields. The European Union reminds us that it is “urgent to allocate at least 10% of agricultural areas to characteristic elements of the landscape with high diversity”, also noting that “the most biodiverse soils are often the most productive”. On the world day of biodiversity that is celebrated today, the theme of nature in cultivated fields is at least as central as that of safeguarding forests and natural areas.
NaturaSì, the largest network of organic shops in Italy, has so far allocated 19% of the surface of the 300 farms of its ‘ecosystem’ to areas for the conservation of biodiversity. In these farms, the hedge system alone, if placed in a row, would give rise to a green belt 670 kilometers long and in the vast majority of fields (83%) there are different habitats, from wetlands to woods, from canals to natural meadows. . Thanks to this differentiation of natural environments, over a quarter of the farms (26%) of the NaturaSì ecosystem are home to rare or declining animal species, protected at community level.
It is not just a question of the desire to safeguard nature, explains a note: in organic farming it is also essential to preserve the environments intended for native species because they are valid supports in the fight against parasites and insects that threaten crops. This is the case, for example, of the barn owl, which hunts not only small mammals that can cause damage to the roots or tubers, but also and above all insects, choosing the largest populations and thus avoiding the harmful proliferation of a single species. Or the green toad, which feeds on terrestrial insects, also in this case controlling the populations. And again of the tessellated natrice, a snake in strong decline that contributes to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem of biological fields, not treated with synthetic chemical insecticides.
These and many other species are found in one of the areas where NaturaSì is conducting, in addition to agricultural activity, research on biodiversity in the field, in the San Michele di Cortellazzo (Ve) farm, where monitoring has lasted for over 5 years conducted by professionals highlighted the presence of marsh harriers, red herons, barn owls and numerous species of bats included in the red list of endangered species. The company’s horticultural and arable crops are surrounded by renaturalized areas with hedges, woods, lakes, canals.
The farm, the faunists have calculated, is home to 71 species of birds, 15 species of land mammals, 10 of bats, 5 of reptiles, 3 of amphibians and 72 botanical species. An enormous heritage of biodiversity which, as already pointed out, integrates perfectly with the methods of organic and biodynamic agriculture. Starting from the richness of nature and the multiplicity of species present at San Michele, on the occasion of the biodiversity day, the company has collected a photographic and video ‘family album’ of the most representative animals and plants.
“Agriculture and industrial breeding, due to their hyperspecialization, are among the causes of the disappearance of biodiversity – says Fausto Jori, CEO of NaturaSì – For organic, however, the balance between the multitude of animal species is important and vegetables, both cultivated and natural. Because it is precisely diversity that ensures balance. It is no coincidence, therefore, that on our farms we already have almost double the biodiversity required by the European Farm to Fork Strategy: biodiversity is a value in itself, but for those who do not use synthetic chemicals it is also an insurance against proliferation. of individual populations of insects or other animals, which in itself represents a danger to our fields ”.
“Globally, from 1970 to today, the volume of agricultural production has increased by about 300% – continues Jori – but all this has been obtained at a price that we are no longer able to pay; the destruction of habitats necessary for life on earth and for agriculture itself; the progressive increase of the planet’s temperature. Only with regard to the disappearance of pollinators are we putting global crops at risk: it is estimated that for this alone, and exclusively at the economic level, the account is 577 billion dollars in production at risk. It is time to take a step forward and understand that the agricultural model established in the 1950s and 1960s has become an obstacle on the road to ecological transition ”.
In order to fully develop the innovation of the ‘nature-based solutions’ that the United Nations has begun to forcefully ask for, the space dedicated to nature in the 300 companies of the NaturaSì ecosystem is in any case destined to grow. Thanks to the Life PollinAction project, the areas dedicated to nature will be able to grow further in 10 farms over the next two years. An increase of 5 more kilometers of hedges is expected, of approximately 92,000 square meters of flowered lawn and 144,000 square meters of perennial borders. These interventions will create the conditions for the settlement of a large number of invertebrate species, making agriculture an oasis of life that generates balance.