GWCT Wales says the future design of Welsh farming schemes need to be all-inclusive with an appropriate light touch inspection approach.
After the Sustainable Farming and Our Land consultation closed in October, Welsh officials visited GWCT members in north and mid-Wales to see how science translates to action on the ground and how it can be applied to future schemes.
Two days of visits on November 5th and 6th, held at Ty Newydd organic dairy farm at Trefnant, Denbigshire and then onto Cruglas farm in Ystrad Meurig, Ceredigion, discussed what future schemes need to offer to get maximum participation to deliver best outcomes for public benefit.
“Rewarding farmers for outcomes within an easily accessible scheme is needed,” said GWCT director of policy Alastair Leake, who believes that a more trusting framework with self-reporting carried out by the farmers is vital.
Speaking to the dairy farmers in the North Wales session, Dr Leake used the work done by Nestlé, with its Kit Kat farmers as an example, of where payment by results is working well.
Dr Leake added: “These farmers are receiving half a pence per litre extra for additional environmental benefit delivered on farm which is verified through a simple online system completed by the farmer.”
“The initiative has been able to reward farmers based on what they have on the farm in terms of hedges, stonewalls, woodland etc - demonstrating the environmental credentials of where the milk is produced and which trusts the farmers to report work completed with before and after photos using their phones as evidence.”
The Powys Moorland Partnership demonstrated its system of collecting landscape scale data through an app called Epicollect showing where all the habitat works has been carried out and what birds are seen where and when.
Sue Evans, GWCT’s Wales director, said: “It is important that farmers, and those working on the ground, are able to collect their own data and do their own monitoring and not rely on consultants to carry out this work.”
Farmers surrounding part of the Cors Caron bog near Ystrad Meurig – successful in the last window of the Sustainable Management Scheme – spent the day at Cruglas demonstrating the potential of the GWCT’s three legged stool approach and talking about the opportunities for the future scheme and explained to the Welsh Officials how the approach to farm inspections has to change.
The project will pull all the conservation work in the area together to demonstrate how a more joined up approach can help resilience on a landscape scale.
Cruglas farm identified 143 bird species last year as well as nine species of bats which demonstrates just how successful farmers can be in reversing biodiversity decline when they take onboard the principles of providing habitat, winter feeding and predator control, all championed by the GWCT.
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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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