Keynote Lecture: Managing agricultural landscapes sustainably

This Valuing Nature Keynote Lecture was given by Professor Sue Hartley, OBE, Director, York Sustainability Institute. This 45 minute lecture was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session chaired by Professor Michael Winter with Professor Rosie Hails (Director of Nature and Science at the National Trust), Teresa Dent CBE (Chief Executive of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and a board member of Natural England) and Allan Law (Deputy Chief Executive, Natural England).

View presentation here: 'Managing agricultural landscapes sustainably: balancing production with benefits for people and nature'. For further questions, Prof Sue Hartley may be contacted via the email address on the presentation.

Date: 4 December 2019, 18:00 to 20:00

Venue: The Wesley Euston Hotel & Conference Venue, 81-103 Euston Street London NW1 2EZ

Abstract: "Managing agricultural landscapes sustainably: balancing production with benefits for people and nature". Agriculture is at the centre of a “perfect storm” of competing demands: calls for increased production and more self-sufficiency in the UK food system, despite the impacts of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns; pressure to reduce its environmental footprint, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and inputs of herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers; and the need to protect biodiversity in farmed landscapes and the ecosystem services it provides. This talk explores the challenges in meeting these competing demands and how they might be overcome. It will discuss the benefits of agro-ecological approaches to identify “win-wins” (e.g. biodiversity enhanced but crop yields not reduced) and to support ecosystem services in agricultural environments. The Government’s 25 year environment plan has outlined policies, such as the reframing of the agricultural payment system around “public money for public goods”, which could drive the design of new farm management schemes to promote nature recovery, climate change mitigation and other benefits for society. This talk will emphasize the importance of public engagement and co-design with farmers in that policy shift.

Biography: Sue Hartley is Professor of Ecology at the University of York and director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute, a pioneering interdisciplinary research partnership generating solutions to global environmental challenges. She is also the University of York's Research Champion for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience, driving a range of inter-disciplinary research programmes with colleagues from multiple disciplines and external partners. Her research interests include understanding the interactions between organisms exploiting plants, how those interactions are mediated by plant defences, particularly silicon, and how a better understanding of those processes can improve both the sustainability of agriculture and agri-environmental policy. Sue is also a trustee of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a board member of Natural England, the UK government’s statutory adviser for the natural environment in England.


This 45 minute lecture was followed by discussion with the panel members below and about 30 minutes of open discussion:

  • Michael Winter OBE (Chair), Professor of Land Economy and Society, Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter
  • Teresa Dent CBE, Chief Executive of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and a board member of Natural England
  • Professor Rosie Hails MBE, Director of Nature & Science, National Trust
  • Allan Law, Deputy Chief Executive, Natural England