The 2017 report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has just highlighted a worrying increase in the risk posed to many of the priorities of the government’s National Adaptation programme because “opportunities for modest, timely intervention to avoid long term problems are being overlooked”.
The role of AD in combating climate change by displacing fossil fuels with biomethane for electricity, heating and transport receives much of the attention when promoting its potential. However AD can produce other impacts that will contribute “timely intervention” and be of positive benefit to the economy as well as supporting delivery of the government’s National Adaptation Programme.
The potential for AD to use biomass from non-farmed landscapes has been mentioned in previous blogs. Non farmed landscape includes many of the surviving residual pockets of biodiversity within nature reserves and the soft landscape of national infrastructure such as the road verge network. Maintaining the biodiversity of these sites commonly requires positive management that produces biomass that has to be disposed of. The collection and disposal costs and this biomass limits the choice and scope of landscape management practices.
Converting biomass disposal from a cost to a value generating opportunity could revolutionise the management of much of this landscape. The Lincolnshire Verge Biomass project is generating data that suggests that this is possible. The adoption of a cut and lift biomass collection system for road verges has been shown to contribute to diversifying their botanical and invertebrate communities. The result is the creation of a network of biodiverse corridors that can connected the isolated islands of biodiversity. This could offer opportunities opportunity of species migration along these corridors and thus connect isolated pockets of biodiversity offering resilience against local extinctions.