The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has welcomed the new Countryside Stewardship offers which were announced recently by Defra.
The four new offers – Online Arable Offer, Lowland Grazing Offer, Upland Offer and Mixed Farming Offer – will provide tailored options covering the full range of different farm types, so farmers and land managers can deliver farm-wildlife focussed agreements in a simplified way. Under this approach, farmers will be able to build simple agreements with between 3 and 5 targeted options that really do provide for wildlife.
Jim Egan, who is head of Training and Development at GWCT’s Allerton Farm Project in Loddington, Leicestershire, pictured below, said: “We really welcome this development and we are pleased to have been part of the Technical Stakeholder Group that has helped with the scheme development.”
“Over the past two years, I have worked as part of the Farm Advice Framework and I have delivered around 50 one-to-one workshops to help farmers through the paperwork to build a scheme that delivers for both the farm and for wildlife.
“About 75% of those farmers would have been suited to these new simplified offers; so it does feel that this approach is about right. Anything we can do to get more farmers delivering good quality environmental schemes has to be a good thing.
“The real beauty of this approach is that those farms wanting to do more than is set out in the simplified approach are still able to do so through the full scheme.”
The simplified approach focuses on delivering positive and sustainable outcomes for wildlife by asking farmers to provide specific areas for flower-rich habitats, seed rich habitat, nesting and overwintering habitat. Paperwork for the new offers is quicker and easier to get through, due to streamlined evidence checks and shorter application forms designed to help save farmers valuable time.
The scheme is also non-competitive, meaning that all farmers who meet the eligibility requirements can get an agreement to deliver as few as three options, or as many as seven up to 14, depending on the offer applied for.
The popular Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant will also receive additional funding from 2018, with farmers and land managers able to apply for a maximum grant of £10,000, up from £5,000 in previous application rounds.
The details of the scheme can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/countryside-stewardship-detail-of-new-simplified-offers and will be announced on January 15.
Jim added: “We are looking forward to working with Defra and Natural England to help promote the scheme in 2018 and to help with a process of continual improvement.”
Jim Egan is happy to be contacted for interview. Please direct press enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01425 651000.
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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Telephone: 01425 651000