Today, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) celebrate over 20 years of successfully influencing Government agricultural and environmental policy and spreading best farming and conservation practice.
Together, LEAF and GWCT are demonstrating how their work can reconcile food production, food security, natural resource protection, wildlife recovery and good game management in the coming decades. A key report is being launched.
Minister for Agriculture Jim Paice MP, visited the GWCT’s Allerton Project which is a LEAF Innovation Centre. He applauded both organisations for the practical and forward looking approaches they have taken, researching and putting into action innovative agricultural and conservation techniques.
Jim Paice said, “Farmers sometimes ask me rather colloquially - Do you want me to produce food or birds? The Allerton Project has shown us that there neither need be or should be a choice. For that alone it has earned its place in history.”
The Allerton Project was founded to reconcile modern commercial farming with wildlife conservation and evaluate the contribution game management made to farmland biodiversity. The scope of the project has broadened to address the whole canvas of the wider environment, including protection of natural resources such as water and soil, recycling of agricultural waste, and energy efficiency. Community engagement has been central to project throughout. Meanwhile, game and wildlife have both prospered.
Speaking at the event Teresa Dent, Chief Executive of the GWCT said, “Wildlife thrives on our farm, whilst our food production has remained impressive in both quantity and quality. The enterprise pays its way and makes a handsome contribution to the natural environment. And we have shown that game conservation can help declining songbirds recover.”
Teresa Dent continued, “GWCT is delighted to launch our new report ‘Fields for the Future’ which brings together 20 years of the research at Allerton. Working with LEAF, we can show that a hopeful future for farming is both realistic and of value to the whole of society.” Click for Precis
LEAF has championed a fully integrated approach to address the delivery of more sustainable food and farming production for 21 years. This has been through working closely with farmers, researchers and the industry coupled with a strong public engagement through LEAF Marque and the hugely successful Open Farm Sunday initiative.
Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive, said “LEAF has taken a strong lead in developing productive agriculture in harmony with the environment. We greatly value the partnership that we maintain with GWCT and the Allerton project.”
Caroline Drummond continued, “With the support of LEAF’s Demonstration Farm network, GWCT’s innovative approaches are being widely adopted. Together, both organisations will continue to play a critical role in the shaping of farmland conservation policies and agricultural techniques in the future. This will have significance far beyond Whitehall.”
Some messages of support for the Allerton Project:
Poul Christensen, Chair, Natural England, said: “The Allerton Project is a great example of how research can inform the ways in which agri-environment policies support wildlife and the natural environment.”
Peter Kendall, President of the NFU, said: “The Allerton Project and the GWCT’s research generally, has given us many of the tools to be really smart in responding to the challenge to intensify food production while improving environmental performance.”
Sue Holden, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust, said: “The Allerton Project has shown how game management can make a significant contribution to the expansion of native woodland and its good management for a rich variety of wildlife.”
Lord Selborne GBE FRS, said: “We should all be grateful that the Allerton Project, funded in the main by farmers and land-owners, especially the far-sighted Allerton family, is still undertaking such valuable applied agricultural research. The findings will continue to be of the greatest importance for establishing the evidence base for future management practices.”
Helen Woolley, Director-General of the CLA, said: “The Allerton Project has shown that ordinary farms can make a profit while still doing extraordinary work for wildlife.”
Matt Ridley, journalist, scientist and author, said: “The farm is living proof of what the GWCT’s members and supporters have long asserted: that shooting interests conserve more wildlife that any other kind of management.”
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats and we lobby for agricultural and conservation policies based on science. We employ 14 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
The Allerton Project: Founded 20 years ago, the Allerton Project set out to reconcile modern commercial farming with wildlife conservation, and evaluate the contribution game management made to farmland biodiversity.