Environment secretary Michael Gove has reiterated the importance game and wildlife conservation plays in preserving our countryside and ensuring that it continues to flourish.
Mr Gove spoke at the recent All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for game and wildlife conservation.
Talking in front of a packed meeting, which was chaired by the Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Soames, Mr Gove noted that 470,000 people are involved in field sports and game shooting in Britain.
“When we think about the population that is concerned about the management of our land and environmental richness and diversity, and being able to contribute to the rural economy, those involved in game and wildlife conservation are equal in number and, in my view, just as important to listen to as those who have been managing the land for traditional agriculture enterprises.”
“These have done so much over so many years to make our countryside productive and to keep it beautiful.”
Mr Gove, pictured right, also delivered his views on the proposed new Agriculture Bill - profitable farming and the environment in the wake of Brexit.
In a wide-ranging and supportive speech, he commented: “There is an opportunity in this agricultural bill and an opportunity over the course of the next five years for Defra to ensure that the support that we give, from the taxpayer to those who manage our land, goes to those who create the right environmental outcomes and in many cases that will mean working with organisations like GWCT to look at what has worked already.”
Additionally, Mr Gove spoke of a common-sense approach to the new post-Brexit farming policy which will use what already works and improve upon elements that are not fit for purpose.
He also praised the GWCT’s Allerton Project, a research demonstration farm based at Loddington in Leicestershire, which already “pioneers some of the techniques which I suspect we will want to see adopted in a more widespread fashion by land owners and managers in order to ensure that we reap the right environment for them”.
He spoke about issues deriving from the Common Agricultural Policy and how to avoid any such issues with the new agri-environmental policies currently in development at Westminster; the importance of agroforestry, organic farming and the need to sustain British food quality at a high level and resist the importation of cheap, low-quality foodstuffs after Britain leaves the European Union.
Organiser Dr Alastair Leake, director of policy at the Allerton Project, reinforced Mr Gove’s points about policy development after leaving the EU by emphasising the need for “a simple voluntary scheme with a light regulatory touch to achieve the widest possible amount of farmer participants with bigger and better outcomes for not only nature and the environment but also for the people who are paying for this.”
Further to this he also singled out the importance of farmer clusters and longer-term stewardship schemes to farming developments in the future which are part of the GWCT’s long-term environmental goals.
There was also a brief talk from professor Georgina Mace, who is head of biodiversity and environment research at University College London.
About the APPG
The APPG was first introduced in 2010 as a forum that allows direct access to politicians.
They are held in Westminster three times a year where MPs from all parties are invited to meet GWCT staff for discussions and presentations on topical and controversial rural subjects.
It is also an opportunity for GWCT to deliver latest research findings and provide updates on current projects.
Will you join our revolution?
Conservation is at a crossroads. Some conservationists are struggling to accept that farmers and gamekeepers do care about nature and can be trusted to lead on local conservation. They still refer to ‘them and us’ and insist that the existing ‘top down’ approach would work if it was ‘better enforced’. We disagree.
With your help, we will:
- Take our science to ministers and civil servants, including All Party Parliamentary Groups
- Be ready to counter misinformation and inaccurate reporting in the media
- Campaign for a pragmatic, results-based environment scheme
If you walk through the British countryside, whether it’s the Highlands of Scotland or the Dorset coastline, the impact of conservation schemes is there to see, and at the heart of them is GWCT science. Beetle banks to provide natural pest control. Conservation headlands that offer not only vital food to birds and mammals, but breeding sites for butterflies and nesting cover for songbirds. These are part of farmland policy because they’ve been proven to work by the GWCT.
You can help us to take this opportunity
With your support, we can make a real difference to conservation policy. Any amount you can give will get our research into the hands of politicians and the public to keep conservation policy on track.
£25 could help us to turn our research papers into easy, digestible summaries to show ministers and civil servants what can be achieved by those with a passion for the British countryside
£100 will help us to give the wider public a true picture of what is being done for wildlife on farms and estates
£250 allows us to monitor how the media report on the role of farming and fieldsports in conservation and correct misinformation
This is a once in a generation opportunity - the future is now in your hands.
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.
ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.
For information, contact:
Telephone: 01425 651000