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  • Climate friendly wool
  • Post author
    Ronnie Eunson

Climate friendly wool

Nowadays society requires reassurance on many levels. The messages of interest groups can collide in a fog of claim and counter claim. This all effectively confuses and scares in equal measure. What none of these voices speak up for are the producers from the naturally challenging lands. Here one finds examples of sustainable systems determined by natural necessity.

Uradale Farm is predominantly a peat-covered landscape which has been under environmental management to maintain and enhance biodiversity for the past 20 years. As the emphasis by necessity for science has shifted to gaining an understanding of climate change. A new appreciation of the crucial role of carbon sequestration by peatlands has developed in recent times. It is now recognised that peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial store of carbon. See https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/peatlands_and_climate_change_issues_brief_final.pdf

It is now of global importance that these peatlands are secured from damaging activities in light of this knowledge. This has implications for some industries including farming which have formerly seen peat as a sign of ‘poor quality soil’.

The peatlands are a huge carbon store and one that grows annually if looked after. An indicator of an active peatland is the presence of such species as the sphagnum mosses, which increase peat depths by up to one millimetre each year as they grow and decay. This accumulation adds to this massive carbon deposit as long as habitat and livestock management has been assessed to be ecologically appropriate to the situation. Too many sheep or mechanised activity would damage this fragile ecosystem.

A healthy peatland with limited numbers of sheep grazing can actually build carbon deposits. This is very good news for mitigating climate change and very very good news for the native Shetland sheep. As one type of the North Atlantic Short-tailed sheep famed for their abilities and wools these little animals find their time has come again.

Here at Uradale we have native Shetland sheep which forage from the heather hill tops to the seaweed on the shore. With more than two and a half acres to each sheep they tread lightly over their surroundings. Under this careful form of husbandry native sheep actually benefit plant biodiversity and offer us a unique form of sustainable production.

This is a breed which disproves the claim that all sheep are stupid. They know their hills, the ever-changing weather and importantly how to survive. They find all the food they need from their hill pastures and live outside all year round with minimal shepherding.

At Uradale we aspire to farm with ethical credibility, to produce the most flavoursome of healthy meat and to produce a wool of true distinction while benefitting the natural environment and combating climate change.
  • Post author
    Ronnie Eunson