Veganic standards encourage the biodiversity of free-living animals and native plant species, and the environmental conservation of the farmer’s holding.
Veganic agriculture goes well beyond the question of how to fertilize our fields, and includes the care of the land and the promotion of biodiversity. Veganic farmers aim to be comprehensive, by minimizing their involvement in industries that negatively impact animals and the environment, and also working to increase biodiversity and spaces for wildlife on their own holding.
It is recommended that veganic farmers plant indigenous flora, and also leave undisturbed vegetation around and across their fields for wildlife. Birds and bats are attracted to the area with nesting boxes, and ponds and hedges are maintained or established to provide habitats for animals. During cultivation and mowing, care is taken to minimize the disturbance to wildlife. In addition to encouraging biodiversity of birds, amphibians, mammals, insects, reptiles, and plants, veganic agriculture also encourages biodiversity of the animals that live within the soil.
Biodiversity is beneficial to the local environment, and can also be a natural form of crop protection. In conventional agriculture, biodiversity is often eliminated by planting large tracts of fields with a single crop, and killing other species with herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides. In the absence of biodiversity, the arrival of a single species can significantly affect crop production, and conventional farmers counter this with chemical killing agents that damage the environmental health of the area.
In natural ecosystems with great biodiversity, the organisms are connected through a food web. The populations of organisms are affected by the presence of other organisms, bringing an overall balance to population sizes. With veganic techniques, by encouraging the biodiversity of animal life, the populations of species that eat the crops can be regulated by the presence of other species. For example, piles of wood and rocks can host grass snakes, and ponds provide a habitat for toads and frogs, all of which feed on slugs and snails. Having flowers is also important, since the pollinators they attract are essential for fruit-bearing plants. And by planting a diversity of crops, this helps ensure a successful season, since the arrival of a competing species, pathogen, or adverse weather condition may only affect a small number of your crops.
For farmers and gardeners who are transitioning to veganic, especially those who are interested in becoming certified, environmental conservation on the holding is one of the principles of veganic agriculture. The Stockfree-Organic Standards from the United Kingdom contain detailed and well thought-out recommendations to promote biodiversity and wildlife. See section 9 of the Stockfree-Organic PDF for more information.