Prince of Wales to scythe through environmental jargon with ‘green glossary’

The Prince of Wales will on Thursday launch a "green glossary" for farmers after warning that environmental jargon is so obscure that it can harm efforts to combat climate change.

He said it was vital that everyone "speaks the same language" if environmental decline is to be reversed.

The list of 50 terms, from agroecology to zero tillage, was compiled by the Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) after the heir to the throne warned that the vocabulary often used by non-governmental organisations and scientists did not convey the practical message.

He said it was so hard to understand it even appeared to have been deliberately chosen to hide real meanings.

The Prince, who will launch the guide at the Great Yorkshire Show, said: "Everyone needs to play their part in helping to protect the planet and tackle climate change, but to do so we need to share the same goals and speak the same language.

"That’s why I am delighted that this guide helps to translate terminology and unjumble jargon so farmers, and all of us, can play our part."

Prince Charles said: 'Everyone needs to play their part in helping to protect the planet'

Credit: Toby Melville/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Research by the PCF found that eight in 10 UK farmers were keen to do more to tackle the climate challenge but a lack of understanding of critical terms prevented many from taking action. More than three quarters said they had little or no understanding of the term "natural capital", while almost two thirds said the same about "zero carbon".

As well as de-mystifying such terms, the glossary, called A-Zero: A farmer’s guide to breaking free from environmental jargon, suggests what they could mean on a farm.

The Prince voiced concern about the issue in February, warning that the industry faced its "biggest shake-up in decades".

He said: "In this new world, the relationship between farmers and carbon, water and biodiversity, will be of fundamental importance, with bigger challenges and new opportunities.

"So it is often unhelpful, perhaps, that much of the language being used to describe the situation and the potential remedies is so obscure, sometimes appearing as if it has been chosen to hide the real message and alienate those who most need to hear it."

A source close to the Prince told The Telegraph that he felt the language used was particularly impenetrable for those working on smaller farms who were trying to keep their heads above water.

Keith Halsted, the executive director of the PCF, said it had consulted with a wide cohort of farmers and around 20 conservation groups to ensure the right terms were chosen while being informative without being patronising.

Prince Charles: a life of environmentalism

"It’s been amazing to produce it so quickly," he said. "And I clearly want the Prince’s Countryside Fund to help all of the family farms as much as we can."

The guide was produced in conjunction with McDonald’s, which has a long term partnership with the fund and runs a Progressive Young Farmer Programme which supports those looking to enter the industry with a 12-month placement.

The glossary will be printed on paper made from recycled McDonald’s coffee cups and will be distributed through the trade press, as well as being made available online.

Meanwhile, the Prince on Wednesday warned that the current approach to food production would lead to a "dead end" and that it threatened the survival of rural communities. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that "precious landscapes" were being diminished in the name of efficiency, warning that if small family farms went under, it would "rip the heart" from the countryside.

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