Farmers and land managers who deliver benefits for wildlife will receive funding in a new environmental land management scheme.
From 2016, the new scheme will be targeted so that farmers can help deliver environmental priorities specifically related to their local area, focussing on increasing biodiversity, helping wildlife and improving water quality.
Stephen Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts’ Director, England, said:
“The Wildlife Trusts welcome this good news. We’re especially pleased to hear that biodiversity is the priority for the new scheme. England’s wildlife is in trouble and we need to encourage farmers to do the right thing to look after what we have and to restore wildlife wherever possible.
“We’ll be taking a close interest in the scheme to make sure it delivers the outcomes that society and farming need – for example, by reconnecting fragmented habitats and wildlife, looking after important places, improving the health of soils which clean and hold back water and supporting landscape-scale restoration and recovery. It is vital that the scheme is carefully targeted and monitored to get the best value for money.
“The Government must also raise the environmental standards and benefits that society derive more widely from the mainstream payments that farmers receive. We’ve seen huge volumes of soil washed away recently and if we take much better care of the farmed environment – it will produce far more food at a lower cost – and be better for people, local communities and wildlife. Farming with wildlife, not against it, is essential to our future food security. That’s why we believe wildlife should rightly be at the heart of the new scheme.”
The existing Environmental Stewardship and England Woodland Grant Scheme will be brought together into a universal scheme that will be open to applications from both farmers and foresters.
During EU negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK pressed for each country to have the option to channel a greater proportion of CAP funding into delivering environmental benefits. As a result, £3.1billion of funding will be available for environmental schemes in England. More information on the scheme is available here.