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The UK uses over one and a half times its land size to provide the nation with products such as food, clothing and biofuels, a new report by Friends of the Earth reveals today (Thursday 7 March). The environment charity is calling on the Government to reduce the UK’s resource use to cut our impacts on other countries, slash waste and save money.
 
The report, ‘Hidden Impacts – How Europe’s resource overconsumption promotes global land conflicts’, also found that the UK imports more than its surface area in agricultural goods every year. These imports add to pressure on land around the world, leading to increased food prices and land-grabbing.
 
Friends of the Earth Senior Resource Use Campaigner Dr Michael Warhurst said:
 
“Land is one of the world’s most under-appreciated resources - from food and clothes to smartphones and tablets, everything we buy is grown on or contains parts taken from the land.
 
“The UK’s land-guzzling footprint is like eating a three course meal when you only need a snack – it’s excessive and we’re depriving some of the world’s poorest communities of their fair share.
 
“The products we consume in Britain directly contribute to water shortages, forest destruction and people losing their land.
 
“The Government must reduce the UK’s excessive land consumption to lessen our impact on communities and the environment around the world.”
 
Land footprint is land consumed domestically plus land used to produce imported products, minus the land which is used for producing products that are exported.
 
ENDS
 
Notes to editors
 
1. Read the full report ‘Hidden impacts - How Europe's resource overconsumption promotes global land conflicts’ online at: 2. The report calculates the land footprint of agricultural land use, excluding forestry. This therefore means that the UK’s total land footprint is higher than these figures, as they exclude the land used for commodities such as wood, paper and wood-based biomass for burning.
3. The UK’s agricultural land footprint is 408,090 km2, or 1.675 times the UK’s surface area of 243,000 km2, and the UK’s agricultural land import is 268,340 km2, or 1.1 times the UK’s surface area. The area of land in the UK used for agriculture is 171,900 km2 according to DEFRA 4. The land foot prints of European counties including the UK can be visualised on an online tool, by clicking on each country.

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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust