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Farming for

A Living Landscape Examples of wildlife-friendly farming schemes from around The Wildlife Trusts

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Cover image: Brown hare (c) Bertie Gregory / 2020VISION

Abbotts Hall Farm, Essex

Mendip Hills, Somerset

Avon’s Wildflower Gra sslands

The Meres and Mosses of the Marches

Conservation Gra zing

Nene Valley

Gowy and Mersey Washlands, Cheshire

Pastures New, Dorset

Lincolnshire’s Coastal Gra zing Marsh

Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire

Lower Smit e Farm, Worcestershire

Working Wetlands, Devon


Farming for

Saltmarsh at Abbotts Hall Farm, 2020 Vision

A Living Landscape

Abbotts Hall Farm, Essex Farming for wildlife on the Essex coast Abbotts Hall Farm lies close to the Blackwater Estuary on the Essex coast – an area of international wildlife importance. Essex Wildlife Trust purchased the 283 hectare arable farm in 1999 and manages it using modern agronomic practices, whilst also farming very much with wildlife in mind. The farm also shows how sustainable approaches to coastal management can lead to the creation of coastal marshes that are vital natural flood defences, benefitting both wildlife and people. Abbotts Hall Farm is also the Trust’s headquarters

Wildlife friendly cropping Essex Wildlife Trust has introduced gradual changes to the cropping practices of the farm to increase the benefits to wildlife whilst maintaining farm profitability. The original cropping pattern was retained from 1999 until 2003 in order to establish baseline data, allowing the impact of any changes to be fully assessed. A crop rotation scheme is used to maintain soil fertility and prevent the build up of diseases, and wherever possible crop varieties with high

resistance to pests and diseases are chosen. The main crops are wheat, barley and oats, together with oil seed rape and beans. Every effort is made to reduce the need for spraying but when pesticides are used, they are applied very selectively and at times least likely to damage scarce species. Although autumn-sown crops are generally more successful than spring-sown ones, some fields are sown in the spring to achieve a more open sward and

benefit ground nesting birds such as skylark. This also means that stubble can be left over the winter to provide an important food source for birds. Patches are left undrilled in autumn-sown crops to provide nesting habitat for skylark. As a member of the Guild of Conservation Grade producers, the Trust has to leave 10% of the farm’s land as wildlife habitats. Higher Level Stewardship has helped to achieve this and is an important framework for nature conservation on the farm.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


The costal marshes of Essex are disappearing rapidly, posing a major problem for coastal wildlife but also for people as building higher and stronger flood defences becomes prohibitively expensive. In partnership with the Environment Agency, the 3.5 km sea wall along the farm’s southern boundary was breached in five places in 2002, an approach called managed retreat or coastal realignment. This allowed the tide in and out and has encouraged coastal marshes to develop on the strip of arable land behind the sea wall. These marshes developed quickly, giving immediate benefit to wildlife and forming a natural sea defence. Intensive monitoring of water movements, water quality and wildlife in the estuary is underway. This sustainable approach will benefit the estuary as a whole, including the people who use it, live by it and enjoy its great interest and beauty.

Managing field margins for wildlife

Essex Wildlife Trust

Field margins are managed in a variety of ways to support biodiversity. Some are sown with specially formulated grass mix and left to regenerate naturally, whereas cultivated margins are ploughed each year to allow annual plants to grow. For the six metre margins, the outer two metres are cut every two to three years so that tussocky grass forms, providing habitats for beetles, spiders and nesting birds. The network of hedges and field margins across the whole farm forms a valuable wildlife corridor of connected habitats.

Six metre field margin at Abbotts Hall

Grassland on the farm

Hedgerows for wildlife at Abbotts Hall

Zsuzsanna Bird

The farm also supports a small (35 hectare) area of permanent grassland, some of which is let out for grazing for part of the year. This grazed area receives some fertiliser in the spring but is not sprayed. The remaining grassland is also fertilised, and is cut for hay in the late summer, benefitting wildlife. These fields are grazed in the autumn to improve the grass cover in the following year. In the winter the short grass is used by birds including wigeon, lapwing and starling. Sheep graze the farm’s grassland

Amy Lewis

Hedgerows have been restored by coppicing trees to the ground and planting saplings in any gaps. This ensures that there are always hedges of different heights providing song posts for bullfinch and whitethroat, as well as low hedges for grey partridge. Road and trackside hedges are trimmed with a hedge flail to allow access but some 2-year-old wood is left to flower, providing pollen for insects and fruit for birds. Mature trees have been left in hedgerows to support bats and owls and the farm also supports woodland habitats, which are home to a wide range of insects, small mammals, and birds. Whitethroat singing from a hedgerow

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Terry Whittaker 2020 Vision

Coastal wetland restoration


Farming for

A Living Landscape

Avon’s Wildflower Grasslands Achieving landscape-scale change This project demonstrates how value can be added to agri-environment schemes through ongoing liaison with landowners and the engagement of volunteers in practical conservation work in the wider countryside. A spatial approach is being used to target work on land that contributes to core habitat areas and develop the surrounding network to provide links across the landscape.

Identifying and managing wildflower grasslands Since the project began in 2008, Avon Wildlife Trust has surveyed more than 2,000 ha of land on 162 farms. This activity identified 820 ha of species-rich grassland, 146 ha of which was not recorded before the project started. A further 642 ha of semi-improved grassland was identified as having restoration potential. Traditional management of speciesrich grasslands involves cutting for hay and/or grazing with livestock.

Animals that graze on a mixed diet of grasses and broadleaved species are often healthier, with the lower input costs giving an economic benefit to the landowner as well as a positive benefit for ecosystem services. Combining gains for wildlife with potential commercial benefits for landowners is a high priority for the project. In most instances, Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) is the preferred route for funding grassland management and restoration work.

The project team has so far secured 14 HLS agreements covering more than 600 ha. The project’s grassland survey results and recommendations have led to a further 5 HLS agreements. Where there is land that is not suitable for an agri-environment scheme, the Trust provides some funding for work such as scrub management, fencing to re-introduce grazing and green hay or wildflower seeding to increase species diversity.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Grassland ecosystem services Wildflower grasslands carry out important functions across the agricultural landscape. The insects they support are crucial for the pollination of agricultural crops and this habitat provides food for all stages of their life cycle, as well as areas for breeding, egg-laying and pupation. Invertebrates in wildflower grasslands play an important role in dung removal and soil creation. Wildflower meadows provide food and breeding areas for predator species such as beetles, spiders and parasitic wasps, which in turn carry out natural pest control of insects in arable crops. Grassland soils are a major carbon sink and many wildflower species sustainably fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Making connections Working with Natural England, the project has combined its grassland survey results with agri-environment options data and habitat layers to carry out a simple spatial analysis. The results show the level of connectivity, how HLS is contributing to this and where HLS could be targeted to fill any gaps. Landowner relationships are vital to this process and a “connectivity” map of people willing to undertake habitat restoration work has also been produced. The Trust holds workshops for landowners to look at connectivity and how their landholdings contribute towards the bigger picture.

Surveying grassland in the project area

Landowner advice and support HLS provides a financial incentive for landowners but is not always able to provide the ongoing support required to achieve the desired results. Project staff produce survey reports and offer management advice to those landowners with wildflower grassland. They also undertake site visits to discuss management options and provide follow-up advisory service and assistance with specific tasks that are difficult to achieve within the normal farm schedule. This service is not restricted to landowners in HLS.

Adding value The project is able to bring additional investment to all landowners committed to habitat conservation, whether or not they are in an agri-environment scheme. For example, Avon Wildlife Trust is able to bring in volunteers to control bramble, remove invasive hawthorn and blackthorn, help out with hay-making and pull ragwort. Many of the fields in the project area are small and on slopes, making it difficult for farmers to use machinery. So, following consultation with the landowner, supervised, trained and well equipped volunteers are making a big difference. The Trust has also developed a “Landscape Explorers” education programme, linking schools with local landowners and getting them involved in community activities.

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

Landowner workshops proved popular

Volunteers help with tasks like fencing

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711


Farming for

Devon red cattle, Devon Wildlife Trust

A Living Landscape

Conservation grazing Why graze?

Habitats including calcareous grassland, lowland heathland, wood pasture and coastal marshes are part of cultural landscapes created by humans, often as a by-product of subsistence farming. These habitats are dependent on grazing to maintain the delicate balance of plants, insects, birds and other species which make them unique. As farming practices have changed over the years, there have often been negative consequences for these habitats as a result of either over- or under-grazing.

Emily Brown

The introduction of grazing is often the most cost effective and sustainable conservation method available to land managers.

Managing habitats for biodiversity Grazing is the most natural form of management for certain habitats. Livestock can access areas that machinery can’t and the impacts of grazing are less instantaneous than other methods, such as burning or cutting, which means that less-mobile wildlife can thrive. Grazing also supports other beneficial farming activities, such as hay making, which secures active management for valuable meadow habitats. Stocking densities for conservation

grazing are usually low and the timing and duration of grazing are carefully managed. Both overand under-grazing will reduce the wildlife value of a habitat, so organisations like The Wildlife Trusts produce management plans for each grazed site, outlining the grazing regime required to maintain or restore the habitats found there. The Wildlife Trusts collectively own more than 7,500 grazing animals, including traditional and rare breed sheep and cattle,

native ponies, red deer and even water buffalo. We also use local graziers to help manage sites. Hardy native breeds are ideal for conservation grazing because they don’t need high quality grass, happily eat coarse vegetation and cope well with living outdoors in winter. Many Trusts have ‘flying flocks’ of animals that are moved between reserves and partner sites on rotation to allow them to graze for set periods depending on each site’s requirements.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Grazing animals eat selectively and often choose the more dominant plant species, which allows less competitive plants to become established and increases overall species diversity. As the animals graze across the landscape, they decide for themselves where to concentrate their efforts and this creates a mosaic of different sward lengths and micro-habitats. Lying, rolling and pushing also serve to increase the structural diversity of the sward. This is important for ground nesting birds like lapwing and snipe that need a varied sward structure to successfully rear their young. Trampling creates areas of bare ground, which is beneficial in moderation. It creates nurseries for seedlings that might not otherwise survive and creates habitats and hunting grounds for open ground, warmth-loving invertebrates and reptiles.

Choosing the best animals for the job The choice of livestock used for conservation grazing is very important. Differences in feeding preferences, physiology and behaviour mean that different animals and breeds are needed to manage different habitats:

Sheep prefer to nibble shorter grasses but will also select flower heads, which can result in a decrease in species diversity if not properly managed. Many traditional and hill breeds have a strong browsing requirement to their diet, so are good for scrub control.

Tom Marshall

Cattle use their tongues to wrap around and pull up tufts of vegetation, leaving uneven sward lengths and producing a tussocky field. They will eat longer, coarser grasses and push their way through scrub and bracken to create open spaces.

English Longhorn

Ponies preferentially graze grasses and generally avoid eating flowering plants, allowing them to thrive and multiply. Tom Marshall

Heavier animals break up the ground and create bare areas for seeds to germinate. Hooves also haphazardly push seeds into the ground. Smaller breeds can access more difficult terrain, such as wet ground, where other breeds would cause damage or even get stuck.

Hebridean sheep

Sustainable local food

Amy Lewis

A low intensity, conservation driven approach to managing livestock can also look after itself financially. The animals are crucial to the management of habitats like heathland and wildflower meadows but looking after them still incurs a cost. By providing conservation-grazed beef, lamb and dairy produce to the local community, some of those costs are recouped and reinvested in sustainable land management. The creation of local markets can help to rejuvenate rural economies and preserve traditional rural skills, as well as rare breeds, to protect our cultural heritage.

Exmoor pony

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Chris Maguire

Living lawnmowers


Farming for

Mike McFarlane

A Living Landscape

Gowy and Mersey Washlands, Cheshire Creating a resilient network of wetland habitats Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s vision for the Gowy and Mersey Washlands is to restore, recreate and reconnect a network of wetland habitats, providing ecosystem services in conjunction with high quality nature conservation resources to benefit local people, the environment and the economy. The Trust is undertaking landscape-scale wetland creation by working with landowners farming on the rivers’ floodplains. Many fields next to the rivers are so efficiently drained and farmed that they no longer resemble flood meadows; this project aims to reverse that trend without damaging an individual farm’s business. Gowy and Mersey Washlands Living Landscape

Maximising the value of Higher Level Stewardship agreements Provision of landowner advice is key to making a positive impact. Concentrating on areas adjacent to existing Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements with the greatest potential for wetland habitat restoration and creation, Cheshire Wildlife Trust is providing on-the-ground hydrological and ecological evaluations to help farmers make their HLS agreements a success. HLS agreements in the area are restoring more than 120 ha

of floodplain grazing marsh, improving the condition of 19 ha of species rich meadows plus a range of other farm management practices to help wildlife. A further four farms began HLS agreements during 2013-14 which should restore or improve a further 50-100 ha of grazing marsh. In addition, local farmers are supporting the project by restoring ditches, creating ponds, fencing water courses where appropriate and granting access for surveys of key wetland species.

Close working with the Environment Agency has created opportunities to raise water levels and manage extensive ditch systems for key species such as lapwing and water vole. Water management structures such as sluices, ditches and bunding are key elements in making this landscape work for wildlife; by ensuring that they are adjustable, water can be controlled in both wet and dry periods to meet the needs of wildlife without compromising flood defence functions.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Cheshire Wildlife Trust has been grazing wildlife sites and reserves throughout Cheshire since 2006. Today, the Trust manages one of the largest English Longhorn herds in the UK, as well as more than 300 Hebridean sheep and 80 Dexter cattle. The Trust’s conservation grazing herds now look after more than 500 hectares of land and have restored 266 ha of floodplain grazing marsh. At Wervin Meadows, Dexter cattle have transformed 35 ha of rough grazing into a key site for breeding lapwing, which increased from zero to 25 pairs in three years. Other landowners in the area are now using the Trust’s herds to help them achieve their agri-environment options. Monitoring is underway to assess the effect of different management prescriptions on the grass sward, which is so crucial to wading birds and associated terrestrial invertebrates.

Enhancing river corridors for wildlife

Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Major habitat restoration works have successfully reinstated the traditional course of the Gowy at the Trust’s Hockenhull Platts reserve, a key site within the Living Landscape area. New watercourses linking the Gowy with existing ponds and wet grasslands were created using a specially adapted Kubota digger with double-width tracks for a lighter tread on fragile areas. Overflow pipes allow the river to feed into the new wetland several times a year, providing a dynamic new habitat for otters, water voles and other wildlife.

The Kubota digger in action

Efforts to create a mosaic of wetland habitats within the Living Landscape area proved a huge success when in 2010 the marsh harrier, one of the UK’s rarest birds of prey, bred successfully in Cheshire for the first time ever. With around 360 breeding pairs in the UK, they are usually confined to the east coast and the only other west-coast breeding has been in Lancashire and the Isles of Scilly. As a species reliant on high quality wetland habitats such as reedbeds, the arrival and success of these birds clearly demonstrates the quality of the new habitat that has been created.

Tom Marshall

The return of the marsh harrier

Marsh harriers are breeding in the area

Wild About Conservation Meat The Trust’s grazing herds are also generating an income as part of the Wild About Conservation Meat project, which aims to establish a supply chain for Longhorn beef and Hebridean lamb and to broaden public understanding of sustainable farming and healthy living. All produce is reared and processed in Cheshire, using local abattoirs fully equipped for handling and processing traditional breeds of cattle. This helps ensure transportation distances or ‘food miles’ are kept to an absolute minimum and minimises stress to the animals. A sustainable source of local food

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Longhorn cattle, Tom Marshall

Conservation grazing


Farming for

A Living Landscape

Lincolnshire’s Coastal Grazing Marsh Restoring a productive pastoral landscape This partnership project is protecting and restoring grassland and wetland habitats in ways that provide income for farmers. It demonstrates the benefits of a targeted approach within a landscape-scale framework to lever funding from a variety of sources and promote both food production and other ecosystem goods and services provided by pastoral farming and biodiversity enhancement. The project’s aims can only be achieved with the support of the farming community. Unfortunately, a combination of expiring classic schemes, market trends and potential budget cuts threatens to undo the achievements made to date.

Opportunities for people and wildlife Lincolnshire’s coastal landscape was once characterised by long, narrow fields separated by a network of water-filled ditches, which kept the land dry enough to produce a good crop of grass. These permanently wet ditches were very rich in wildlife and the fields provided ideal conditions for birds like lapwing and snipe to breed. Over the last fifty years, more and more of this pasture has been cultivated and now grows arable crops: 25% of the grassland was

ploughed between 1990 and 2000. Where grassland and water-filled ditches remain, the typical grazing marsh plants and animals are merely hanging on. The distinctive landscape, with its associated rich wildlife, is fast disappearing. The Lincolnshire Coastal Grazing Marshes Project aims to reverse the decline in biodiversity in the grazing marshes, whilst encouraging the retention and re-establishment of viable pastoral farms and stimulating local

economic activity through tourism and marketing locally produced quality goods and services. Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and partners are working in four core areas covering more than 9,000 ha (Saltfleetby, Huttoft, Burgh Le Marsh and Croft). With the aid of agri-environment funding, remaining areas of grassland have been protected and extended and it has been possible to influence drainage without affecting neighbouring landowners.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


In the Burgh Le Marsh area, Bratoft Meadows SSSI is now surrounded by grassland in HLS and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Raising water levels as part of these schemes has produced rapid results. Three years after re-creating grazing marsh on 35 ha of arable land, breeding birds included 74 pairs of lapwing and the density of wading birds’ nests exceeded 3 per ha. Winter counts of wetland birds have increased, with more than 3,000 golden plover and 2,000 lapwing. These areas are beginning to rival the North Norfolk Coast for birdwatching and HLS agreements include all-ability access routes and hides. In addition to the valuable bird habitats supported by the extensive wet grasslands, the intersecting, permanently-wet ditches support water voles, eels, dragonflies and greater water-parsnip.

Despite the Project’s efforts, the future of Lincolnshire’s grazing marshes looks bleak. As classic agri-environment agreements expire, financial support for grassland conservation dries up and valuable habitats are put under the plough. The Project cannot achieve its aims without the ability to retain grassland and encourage more farmers to value livestock farming. The current uncertainties of CAP reform, coupled with market trends and potential cuts to Rural Development budgets, threaten to undermine efforts to create the very ecological networks that will support sustainable farming systems.

Roger Wardle

Continuing loss of wildlife-rich grassland

Landowner advice is the key to success

In Lincolnshire, 116 Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreements will expire in 2013. Some had the option to transfer to HLS but, considering current market trends, the outlook is not good. A further 66 CS agreements will expire in 2014 but there is no contingency plan in place for these farmers, many of whom have commited heavily to the scheme and made major changes to their farming practices. The absence of proactive support for transition threatens to undo the good work that has been done in securing long term commitment from farmers to deliver environmental benefit.

Roger Wardle

An uncertain future

Golden plover numbers have increased

Very urgent action is needed to find ways of making traditional pastoral systems financially viable to the farmer, so that valuable grassland habitats are as productive in terms of income as the areas converted to arable or biomass production. Incentive schemes must recognise the high-value, multiple benefits - for the environment and climate - of permanent grassland within a mosaic of arable land. To achieve this, farmers need continuity of adequate, competitive funding and confidence in long-term support to be able to be deliver biodiversity objectives that benefit everyone.

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

Roger Wardle

Recognising the value of permanent grassland

Demonstration events are popular

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Lapwing chick, Margaret Holland

Wildlife benefits


Farming for

Zoe Stevens

A Living Landscape

Lower Smite Farm, Worcestershire Lower Smite Farm is a 68 hectare mixed-arable working farm, owned and managed by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust since 2001. The farm is an average size for Worcestershire and is a mix of conventional and organic arable, permanent pasture and woodland. The farm is in ELS, OELS, HLS and the EWGS (England Woodland Grant Scheme). The farm buildings also house the Trust’s HQ and Wildlife and Farming Centre, which hosts visits from more than 3, 500 school children each year. The farm is already of national importance for its existing assemblage of rare arable flora and in 2008 was the West Midlands runner-up in Natural England’s ‘Future of Farming’ Award.

Zoe Stevens

Farming for wildlife

The importance of healthy soil Farming operations at Lower Smite aim to maximise biodiversity by enhancing soil health and providing year-round habitat and food supplies for farmland wildlife, whilst facilitating the Trust’s education programmes and achieving economically-viable returns from commercial farming enterprises which reflect the Trust’s values. With around 75% of terrestrial wildlife living in the soil, a thriving soil food web is vital to the recovery of the majority of farmland wildlife,

most of which continues to suffer ongoing declines. A healthy soil is also fundamental to establishing a resilient cropping system. Since the post-war drive to intensify farming, the soil at Smite had steadily declined in terms of humus content, organic matter and soil wildlife, particularly earthworms. As a result, the soil had become almost totally reliant on artificial inputs to grow arable crops and this was associated with costly heavy cultivations to create seedbeds.

Enhancing soil health is therefore a priority. By 2015 the Trust aims to increase soil organic matter by 3% (after 3 years it had increased on average by 0.5%) and earthworms by 30%. To help achieve this, a wide range of ‘green manure’ mixes have been planted, including red and white clovers, cocksfoot, yellow trefoil and phacaelia. These mixes ‘feed’ the soil and encourage microbial activity. They also provide good forage for sheep and cattle.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Education and demonstration Since the Lower Smite Farming and Wildlife Centre opened in 2005, the Trust’s People and Wildlife team has received on average 3,500 school children visitors each year. The education buildings are purpose-designed and there is a full range of teaching resources and fieldwork equipment. Full use is made of the farm to investigate life cycles and of the restored 17th Century granary to look at building materials. Various livestock are present at different times of year. The farm’s copse and the pond feature heavily in ‘mini beast’ habitat days with Reception children through to ecological techniques with ‘A’ level students. There is also a substantial flower and raised-bed vegetable garden adjacent to the main building, which is managed by volunteers.

Half the farmland at Lower Smite is now managed organically and as the Trust explores new directions, a diverse range of crop types are grown including traditional varieties of strawberries, blackcurrants, orchard trees, spring wheat and forage crops. Forage is fed to livestock on the farm and also traded for farm yard manure and operations. Household compost is imported. A neighbouring farming family rents the remaining arable land and under the auspices of the Trust grows cereal and forage for their dairy herd as well as carrying out operations for the Trust on the organic land.

Chris Gomersall 2020 Vision

Organic farming at Smite

Barn owls hunt over field margins

Wildlife friendly farming standards

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is working in partnership with local farming enterprise Old Yarr Estates and its sister farm, Treberfedd Farm in Wales, whose traditional Herefordshire breed cattle graze the Trust’s meadows (after the hay cut) and temporary clover and chicory leys. Grazing is key to preserving the structure and diversity of these valuable grassland habitats and cattle dung also houses numerous invertebrates, which in turn are fodder for other wildlife. All three land holdings have been audited and Old Yarr Estates’ wildlife friendly Beef Box is the first product to be marketed through this approach. We are now looking at sheep, pigs and poultry.

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

Sunflowers - food for farmland birds

Wendy Carter

Adding value to conservation grazing

Zoe Stevens

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has developed a ‘wildlife friendly’ farm audit, which assesses the entire land holding including species records, cropped and un-cropped habitats and connectivity within and throughout the landscape. The aim is to recognise existing efforts to maximise biodiversity and agree on actions which will further enhance nature’s ecosystem services, whose benefits include pollination, insect pest control, predation and natural erosion control.

Herefords arriving at Lower Smite

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711


Farming for

Mike McFarlane

A Living Landscape

Mendip Hills Living Landscape, Somerset Disappearing grasslands The Mendip Hills are home to some of the most valuable grassland wildlife habitats in Somerset. Somerset Wildlife Trust manages more than 600 hectares of grassland on the hills but the Living Landscape covers 26,000 hectares, much of which is more intensively grazed for commercial beef and dairy production. The small, isolated patches of species-rich grassland contained within Trust nature reserves will not be viable in the long term. The challenge is to create ecological networks by reconnecting these core areas of grassland habitat so that wildlife can disperse and adapt to future changes in the landscape. The Mendip Hills Living Landscape

Creating resilient grassland networks In order to build coherent and resilient grassland ecological networks, we first need to understand their current state. The Mendip Living Landscape team has been completing habitat surveys across the landscape since 2006 and are fortunate to have the entire landscape mapped using Aerial Photo Interpretation (API). With this data we have been able to model grassland networks across the Mendip Hills Living Landscape.

These grassland networks are in places highly fragmented and in order to build their resilience we’ve been working with the two industries that have the most significant impact upon the landscape of the Mendip Hills: agriculture and aggregates. To fund the restoration, creation and maintenance of priority grassland habitats the Mendip team has used Higher Level Stewardship where available (approximately

half the Living Landscape is within an HLS target area). However, focussing solely on restoration and recreation of priority habitat is expensive, time consuming and unrealistic over such huge tracts of agricultural land. In order to link separate parts of the grassland networks, we’re also trying to increase the permeability of the majority of the landscape, which is intensively farmed, through our Seeds For Change project.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


To demonstrate that agricultural grassland can produce resources for wildlife, as well as a high quality grass crop, seed trials were established to compare the farmer’s usual seed mix (species poor, typically one or two grasses with red or white clover - right of image ) with an enhanced diversity seed mix (6 grasses, 9 legumes, 6 forbs left of image ). Farmers managed both mixes as they would normally do, with a compulsory resting period of at least three weeks in the summer (no cutting or grazing) to allow the plants to flower. The quantity and quality of the grass crop from each seed mix did not differ, which is crucial if farmers are to be encouraged to plant the new seed mix. In all the trial sites, floral abundance and diversity were a lot higher in the enhanced diversity seed mix, providing significantly more pollen and nectar.

The importance of agri-environment funding

Somerset Wildlife Trust

The Seeds for Change enhanced seed mix is now available as an ELS option - EK21 (200 points/ha). Somerset Wildlife Trust is using ecological network modelling to identify areas on farms where this option could make a real difference to how grassland species move across the landscape. Higher Level Stewardship has been the mainstay of habitat creation, restoration and maintenance and the Mendip team has helped many landowners enter HLS agreements, selecting management options that are great for wildlife and the farmers. Harvesting an EK21 grass crop

Working with the aggregates industry to restore the landscape

Steve Bond

Some 1,800 hectares in the Mendip Living Landscape is contained within active quarries or in quarry company hands (three times the area of Trust grassland reserves). Somerset Wildlife Trust has worked with the Minerals Policy team at the County Council to include ecological networks developed by the Mendip team as the basis of future landscape-scale restoration of the minerals industry. These networks were developed using computer modelling in partnership with Forest Research and county ecologists.

Increased floral diversity benefits wildlife

Assessing how the Mendip landscape has been enhanced for wildlife over such a large area is challenging. The Mendip team is focusing on ‘pinch points’ in the ecological network, monitoring the condition of habitats and the way that species are using them to assess how the team’s support to farmers and work with the aggregates industry is helping wildlife over the long-term. Monitoring the landscape in this way will provide the evidence needed to lobby for better targeting of agri-environment schemes with appropriate options that support landscape-scale conservation in the way advocated by Making Space for Nature and Biodiversity 2020.

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

Somerset Wildlife Trust

Monitoring landscape scale progress

Monitoring grassland species diversity

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Somerset Wildlife Trust

Seeds for Change


Farming for

A Living Landscape

The Meres and Mosses of the Marches Shropshire and Cheshire Wildlife Trusts The meres and mosses form the largest and most ecologically diverse cluster of natural wetlands in lowland England. They are of international importance for their biodiversity; here you will find 13,000 hectares of peat deposits, Europe’s greatest concentration of ponds, rare floating bogs and glacial lakes. However, core sites are now isolated in a landscape of highly productive farmland and have suffered from reduced water quality, extensive drainage and inappropriate management. We are working with farmers and landowners to rebuild a robust ecological network, supporting positive action both to protect wildlife and strengthen farm businesses.

The Meres and Mosses Living Landscape

Nature Improvement Area – a new approach The 2011 Natural Environment White Paper heralded a “step change in nature conservation” and designated 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) across England. The Meres and Mosses of the Marches is one of these. This Defra pilot programme provides the ideal opportunity to test new approaches to delivering A Living Landscape. Existing initiatives such as Catchment Sensitive Farming, Entry and Higher Level Schemes

all operate within the Meres and Mosses area, yet water quality continues to decline and biodiversity diminish. Whilst existing schemes all have good elements, none of them provide an integrated approach to delivering a truly living landscape with thriving businesses, abundant wildlife and basic ecosystem services on which we all rely: clean water, carbon capture and recreational opportunities.

Meeting the challenge of restoring a fully-functioning living landscape in the Meres and Mosses demands joined-up thinking. We have a moment of real opportunity to combine support for rural business development, agri-environment schemes, Water Framework Directive and the NIA to give something far greater than the sum of its parts and provide the step change in nature conservation that is so desperately needed.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Despite being a rural area, there is a growing disconnection between farmers and local communities. Many people no longer understand how food is produced but within the Meres and Mosses we hope to restore some of these links. Just down the road is a great model, Fordhall Farm. It is owned by the local community and encourages visitors but is a genuine working, commercial farm the first of its kind in England. We will back a range of measures to rebuild a sustainable food chain, helping to develop food festivals, farmers’ markets and farm shops together with support for developing novel products from vodka to sports drinks and blueberry sauces. Food is a great leveller; increasingly we care about where it comes from and what impact it has on the environment.

We provide site-specific farm advice, including help with agri-environment scheme applications and on-going support with the implementation of scheme options. The relationship between farmer and adviser is key to adding value to agri-environment schemes; advisers need to be embedded in the locality with sufficient local knowledge, expertise and time to provide support. This must take into account both business and environmental needs, so the aim is always to provide integrated advice to maximise delivery of multiple benefits; for example creating nutrient plans to save money, reduce pollution and benefit wildlife.

Philip Precey

Trusted farm advice with a business focus

Silver studded blue

Local flexibility and targeting of agri-environment schemes

Understanding catchments

Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Agri-environment schemes are designed nationally but in order to be successful at the local level it is important to recognise subtle differences from farm to farm. Although the whole farm is initially considered, it is often key fields that provide the solution to creating a landscape permeable to wildlife. Working at a field scale demands a flexible set of scheme options and these need to be implemented within an effective, enforced regulatory framework to gain the maximum possible benefit for the environment. Bog cotton at Wem Moss

Vicky Nall

Each mere and moss wetland has its own catchment. Nutrients and pesticides can all too easily find their way into wetlands, which is damaging, wasteful and expensive. Encouraging farmers to work in catchment groups has multiple advantages; they share knowledge and expertise, peer pressure brings on the less willing and they have a stronger voice in shaping policy. Catchment groups and soil clubs are helping to protect wildlife and strengthen farm businesses. Broad bodied chaser

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Fordhall Farm, Charlotte Hollins

Building food links


Farming for

Nathalie Hueber

A Living Landscape

Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area Rebuilding habitats for wildlife and people

It will create a better functioning environment that is rich in wildlife, beneficial for people and supportive of ecosystem goods and services such as food production, natural flood attenuation and recreation. At the heart of the 41,350 hectare Nature Improvement Area (NIA) is the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Special Protection Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar Site.

BCN Wildlife Trust

This partnership project, led by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, operates at a landscape scale to protect, restore and re-create seminatural habitats in the Nene Valley and the wider catchment.

Working with landowners is key to success

Agri-environment schemes are vital to the Nene Valley The Upper Nene Valley is an important wetland landscape used by internationally significant numbers of over-wintering golden plover, gadwall and mute swan; nationally significant over-wintering numbers of seven other waterfowl species and a nationally significant breeding bird assemblage. However, the Valley sits within an area of the country which has seen one of the highest rates of species extinction in the UK. The river has been separated from its floodplain

and as a result diverse habitats have been lost, along with the ecosystem services they provide. There are very few protected nature conservation sites and just 5% of the Nene Valley has been formally designated, while urban areas cover 9%. This means that mechanisms to make the wider landscape more wildlife friendly are incredibly important for achieving the aims of the NIA. Agri-environment schemes are one of the most effective tools available

and currently cover 55.8% of the Nene Valley, comprising 12.8% Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and 43% Entry Level Stewardship (ELS). The NIA team’s land management advisor has been proactively bringing land holdings into HLS and as a result, a further 1,167 hectares of land will come into HLS during 2013-14, bringing the coverage of HLS up to 13.5%. The agreements will include at least 73 hectares of priority habitat creation or restoration.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Summer Leys nature reserve is a former gravel pit that is now one of the most important wetlands in the Upper Nene Valley and a hotspot for breeding and overwintering wildfowl and waders. It is surrounded by several other lakes and a mixture of grassland and arable fields, including Wollaston Meadows SSSI - one of the few remnants of species-rich grassland left in the Nene Valley. To improve the wildlife value of the surrounding land and reconnect the fragmented habitats, seven HLS agreements have been implemented to recreate 80 hectares of species-rich grassland, restore five lakes and several smaller ponds, and manage grassland for overwintering and breeding waders. Access for people has also been improved by installing a boardwalk over a previously inaccessible reedbed and putting up fencing and gates to enable management of access in more sensitive areas.

Dovecote Farm arable reversion scheme

The developing meadow flora has been monitored every year since establishment, based on methodology set by the Floodplain Meadows Partnership; 33 plant species were recorded in 2013, including some of the key species of wet meadows such as great burnet, ragged-robin and meadow foxtail. The meadows are usually cut for hay in summer and have produced a high yield every year, even when improved grasslands nearby are suffering because of poor weather conditions.

RNRP

Dovecote Farm sits alongside the River Nene and is traversed by the Nene Valley Way long distance footpath. The fields selected for reversion cover 13 hectares and were originally species-rich meadow until the 1970s, when they were converted to arable. Despite annual flooding, arable production continued until 2007 when the last crop of oilseed rape was harvested and the fields were brought into HLS under specific arable-reversion options.

Dovecote farm meadow before...

Matt Johnson

The reversion scheme has reduced sediment and chemical input to the river, while creating habitat for pollinating insects, birds and small mammals. The HLS agreement has also improved access for people by linking up existing footpaths to provide a walking route alongside the new meadows.

...and after restoration

The intensive agriculture of the Nene Valley can be inhospitable to many bird species and other wildlife. The NIA team is working with landowners to encourage the uptake of more wildlife-friendly farming practices, including hedgerow restoration and appropriate management to provide nesting sites; wild bird food plots and restoration of species-rich grassland to increase food supplies; and habitat creation to reconnect the wildlife rich lakes and gravel pits and create a resilient ecological network, so that opportunities for birds now stretch across the Valley.

Jamie Cooper

Bonus for ground nesting and farmland birds

Redshank will benefit

This project has been supported by Defra, DCLG, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Zsuzsanna Bird

Reconnecting the Upper Nene Valley


Farming for

A Living Landscape

Pastures New, Dorset Wildlife Trust Making wildlife-rich grasslands work Pastures New is a landscape initiative led by Dorset Wildlife Trust that takes practical action to halt and reverse the decline of wildlife habitats in west Dorset. The project has laid strong foundations for a wildlife-rich, resilient and ecologically functional landscape. The work aims to protect and extend priority biodiversity habitat across a landscape identified as a Strategic Nature Area. The initial goal was to secure positive management for 2,765 ha of priority grassland habitat over a total project area of 25,509 ha. The majority so far has been chalk grassland and lowland meadows, sitting in a mosaic of woodland, hedgerows and other wildlife features.

“ Wit hout financial help, it would have been difficult to manage cattle gra zing on this special corner of the farm.”

Kevin Wallbridge, West Dorset Farmer

Delivery of agri-environment at a landscape scale Working with Natural England, Dorset Wildlife Trust has facilitated the entry of 11 farms in the Beaminster area into a collective landscape-scale Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement. These farms represent vital core areas of habitat but none of them would have qualified for HLS funding individually. Creating a single HLS agreement, spanning several landowners, has ensured positive management of these core areas.

Under the joint HLS agreement, Pastures New has secured 109 ha of grassland management and restoration; 3.3 kilometres of hedgerow restoration and high quality management; management of a further 80 ha of grassland to benefit key target species; and management of traditional orchards and woodland. In addition to the collective agreement, a further 27 HLS and 38 Entry Level Stewardship agreements have been secured in the project area.

To date, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s experienced advisors have provided free advice to more than 400 landowners, held 17 events and road shows and carried out 14 grassland management demonstrations in the project area. The Trust has also provided more than £36,000 of capital funding to install fencing and water supplies and support the use of a Rytec cut and collect machine for both seed collection and scrub cutting.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


Land management and habitat creation The Trust’s grazing brokerage has provided a practical way of managing grasslands across the project area by linking graziers to sites in need of grazing. Key pieces of machinery, such as the cut and collect machine, are shared in a similar way and have been used to restore some of our valuable grasslands. The Trust’s volunteer task force has put in over 1,000 days of work to help create and manage grassland sites. This has positively affected management or created grassland on over 4,000 ha across West Dorset. The Pastures New volunteers provide much-needed support in managing grasslands outside nature reserves and tasks, such as scrub control, could not have been achieved without their help.

Seed harvesting and grassland creation The project has enabled the Trust to use its register of existing Local Wildlife Sites and, in certain circumstances, SSSIs to provide local sources for green hay and seed. In addition, the Trust has used a local contractor to brush harvest sites and dry out seed for sowing for other projects requiring more specialised techniques of restoration. To date the project has seeded 36 sites and created over 70 ha of new grassland. Harvesting seed for habitat restoration

Hilfield Grassland Restoration Project This 4 ha site was enhanced using green hay from a Trust nature reserve. The work was undertaken using a combination of volunteer help and machinery. The result is a flower-rich meadow that is cut for hay to provide winter forage. Aftercare management was initially carried out using neighbouring livestock, identified through a grazing brokerage scheme. But the restored field inspired the landowners to purchase and manage their own livestock.

Re-connecting people with nature

Hilfield before...

Pastures New has enabled local people to be involved in managing their landscape and to understand how wildlife, food and farming are fundamentally connected. The involvement of local communities, volunteers and particularly farmers, working in partnership has enabled the enhancement of habitats for wildlife and the production of food in ways that help manage and mitigate against the continuing pressures facing the countryside.

...and Hilfield after restoration

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711


Farming for

Nicholas Watts

A Living Landscape

Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire A conservation award winning farm in the Fens Vine House Farm spans 800 hectares in the South Lincolnshire Fens and has been farmed by the Watts family for 130 years. The present owner, Nicholas Watts, is passionate about wildlife and started recording breeding birds on the farm in 1982. This changed his whole approach to farming and led to the establishment of a successful mail order bird seed business, selling home-grown seed across the UK. Nicholas has received a number of prestigious conservation awards in recognition of his dedication to wildlife, including in 2006, the MBE for services to farming and conservation. Nicholas Watts with a sunflower crop

Farmland birds – their fall and rise at Vine House Farm Having documented a worrying decline in farmland birds, Nicholas set about implementing a number of measures on his farm to reverse the trend. Initially, there was no funding available for these activities but with the development of agrienvironment schemes they became economically viable. In 1992, set-aside became compulsory and this stimulated Nicholas to actively manage these areas for wildlife. Although farmers

were not required to manage the set aside areas, Nicholas chose to do so, resulting in greater wildlife benefits across 10% of his farmed area. By allowing his set aside to mature and by planting part of it with wheat grown specifically for bird food, he attracted hundreds of birds and commenced work to reverse the decline of key farmland bird species. Over the years, work to improve habitats on the farm has increased and evolved and this has resulted in

some notable success stories, set against a continued nationwide decline in farmland bird populations. Adjustments to the flail mowing regime have seen an increase in whitethroats from just three breeding pairs to as many as 22 in some years whilst management of redundant ditches, especially ditches close to rape seed fields, provides ideal habitat for sedge warblers Tree sparrows and barn owls have also benefitted from management of the land at Vine House Farm.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


The initiatives at Vine House have been driven primarily by Nicholas’ love for wildlife but have also allowed the farm to receive support through various agri-environment schemes. The most significant farm diversification has been the development of a successful mail order wild bird seed business. The farm started selling rape seed to local enthusiasts who had come to witness the hundreds of birds attracted to the farm after Nicholas started feeding them in winter. Since then, the business has grown into a major concern selling home grown bird seed all over the UK. From 2007 onwards, a partnership with The Wildlife Trusts has seen 5% of turnover from the business distributed to Wildlife Trusts, who are taking local action for wildlife. The bird seed production is thus producing benefits on and off the farm and providing a life line for declining species such as the tree sparrow.

Working with the landscape

Nicholas Watts

Farming in the fens has for centuries relied on a network of dykes to provide land suitable for growing crops. Mechanisation of farming has meant that fields have become bigger and many dykes have become redundant and been filled in. At Vine House Farm, dykes have been maintained and managed as essential wetland habitat. Working with the local drainage board Nicholas has encouraged sensitive management practices on active dykes which are sensitive to wildlife and reed warblers now commonly nest in vegetation along these managed watercourses.

One of the farm’s barn owl towers

Habitat creation

Nicholas Watts

Several large ponds have been established to provide habitat for birds and invertebrates. They are complemented by spinneys planted to provide woodland habitat on the farm. Twenty acres of wildflower meadows and 13 miles of cultivated weed margins provide insect habitat, and four miles of planted hedgerow provide food and shelter for many species, such as small mammals. Specially built towers provide nesting places for barn owls which hunt across the farmland. Agri-environment schemes have provided support for these initiatives and helped to sustain the economic viability of the farm business.

Wildfowl benefit from wetland areas

Engaging the public

Nicholas Watts

Apart from offering high quality advice on feeding garden birds the farm opens its gates to the public several times a year for farm tours. The farm also has its own nature reserve, complete with hide, which is open to the general public. For more information on the farm’s conservation measures, please visit vinehousefarm.co.uk/conservation.

Cultivated weed margin

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Tree sparrows, Nicholas Watts

Diversification


Farming for

Mike McFarlane

A Living Landscape

Working Wetlands, Devon Wildlife Trust Creating A Living Landscape in the Culm Established in 2008, Working Wetlands is an ambitious landscape-scale restoration initiative focused on the Culm grasslands of northern Devon - a rich and unique landscape shaped by centuries of low-input farming and of international importance for its wildlife. A decade ago, the Culm Measures had a reputation only as difficult ground to farm: cold, wet and unforgiving. During the last five years, the Working Wetlands initiative has started to change all that. By working with farmers and local communities, the Culm grasslands have come to be valued for their wildlife and for the wide ranging benefits they provide.

The Working Wetlands target areas

A simple approach to restore Culm grassland Culm grassland is an internationally important habitat, home to some of the nation’s most threatened wildlife. For much of the year it looks sodden, drab and brown but for a month or two during the summer it shows its true colours; orchids and other wild flowers bloom in abundance and the fields are full of insects including the rare marsh fritillary butterfly. Culm serves other important functions like reducing pollution in watercourses by acting as a buffer from more intensive

agriculture upstream. The impacts of unseasonably high rainfall are reduced as the land acts like a sponge, absorbing high levels of rainfall and then slowly releasing the water during periods of drought. One of the main threats to Culm wildlife is habitat fragmentation. Until recently, Culm grassland was disappearing at an alarming rate. Only 4,000 hectares remain in Devon, scatterd across an area of 40,000 ha. Devon Wildlife Trust safeguards 2% in nature reserves

and the remainder belongs to more than a thousand different landowners. Farming systems play an integral role in the future of these marginal, high nature value habitats. Working Wetlands is supporting landowners to manage the remaining fragments of Culm grassland in favourable condition, strategically restore areas lost to agricultural improvement or afforestation and ensure that the condition of fundamental resources, such as soil and water, are enhanced and protected.

Protecting Wildlife for the Future


The nationally scarce marsh fritillary butterfly has experienced a population decline of 60% since 1990 but the Culm area remains a stronghold, with more than 35 known populations and more being discovered as fragmented habitats are re-connected. This has been achieved by working with more than 400 farmers to restore 2,500 hectares of Culm grassland. A further 200 hectares have been re-created from areas previously planted with conifers or converted to intensive pasture. Devon Wildlife Trust administers a small grants scheme to fund improved pasture management and provides a farming and wildlife advisory service, helping to unlock funding to reinstate the extensive cattle grazing necessary to maintain favourable grassland condition. The Trust also has its own mobile herd of 20 Welsh Blacks and pedigree White Park cattle.

Devon Wildlife Trust is working in partnership with South West Water to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality in the catchments of the three principal rivers (Torridge, Taw and Tamar). Areas of restored Culm grassland in the river valleys, where it’s particularly steep and difficult to farm, act as natural filters to capture soil particles and nutrients from fertilisers before they reach rivers and reservoirs. Farmers therefore make significant savings on fertiliser, farming in these areas becomes less intensive and a clean water supply is more secure, reducing the need for expensive chemical filtration.

Devon Wildlife

Upstream thinking

The marsh fritillary butterfly will benefit

Surmounting the barriers

Devon Wildlife Trust

The Working Wetlands initiative has been able to work at a landscape scale to establish robust Culm ecosystems by working in partnership with local communities and a wide range of organisations including Natural England, the Environment Agency, Devon County Council and Butterfly Conservation. To date, the initiative has secured more than ÂŁ7 million of Environmental Stewardship support, without which many of the significant achievements would not have been possible. Conifers have been removed...

Looking to the future

Devon Wildlife Trust

If these achievements are to be sustained, integration and co-ordination between all of the various organisations working in the Culm area will be essential. Agri-environment funding is crucial but so too is support from the statutory, private and public sectors. Investment in time, money and commitment is needed to achieve the long term vision for this landscape if it is to meet its full environmental, economic and social potential. There is much still to be done.

...to restore valuable Culm grassland

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts to help create a resilient and healthy environment rich in wildlife and provide ecological security for people. To find out what advice and support is available from a Wildlife Trust near you, visit wildlifetrusts.org/farming For more information on this project, please contact Charlotte Owen (cowen@wildlifetrusts.org)

The Wildlife Trusts The Kiln, Waterside Mather Road Newark Nottinghamshire NG24 1WT Tel: 01636 677711

Culm grassland, Devon Wildlife Trust

Wildlife benefits


Farming for a living landscape: examples of wildlife-friendly farming schemes