Ahead of potentially far reaching changes to the Common Agricultural Policy, senior Defra environment representatives were on a fact finding mission recently with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and other important stakeholders to explore how Stewardship Schemes should be designed in the future to maximise their effectiveness for wildlife, and the environment.
The GWCT were delighted to host this key stakeholder meeting with Defra representatives at its Allerton Project farm in Leicestershire. The meeting brought together representatives from GWCT, LEAF, the newly formed FWAG Association, CLA, Tenant Farmer’s Association, CAAV and the NFU. The meeting, which was chaired by Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, GWCT Vice President, particularly focussed on the development of the next generation of agri-environment schemes following CAP Reform from 2014.
With impending budget cuts in the pipeline, which will ultimately mean less money for UK green farming schemes, the next few years will be crucial to ensure that new measures deliver better outcomes for wildlife conservation at a time when resources are more limited.
In light of this, the aim of the meeting was to facilitate a more collaborative approach between this influential stakeholder partnership and those responsible for the next generation of Stewardship Schemes, to ensure that both farming and the environment were equal beneficiaries of any future changes to greening measures.
Dr Alastair Leake, Director of Policy with the GWCT said, “We were delighted to host this important meeting. It was an invaluable opportunity to present our evidence-based guidance on environmental management as well as giving other farmer-focussed stakeholders, including those directly involved in the delivery of advice, the opportunity of being involved in this important period of development and consultation to ensure the best possible outcome for future agri-environment schemes.”
Following the meeting in the GWCT’s award-winning training and visitor centre, the group were given a guided tour of the farm to see first-hand the many innovative science-based approaches to environmental management, particularly soil and water research, being implemented on the GWCT’s Allerton Project farm. Dr Leake said, “The grounding-breaking research that we carry out on the farm never fails to impress and we were delighted to see that there is a real desire to see more emphasis placed on this type of practical management. We believe that our research will play an increasingly crucial role in shaping these schemes at a critical stage of their development.”
Photocaption: Dr Alastair Leake demonstrates the Allerton Project's environmental management programme for the Defra team.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish 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.
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