New funding for farmers to protect the English landscape
Farmers and landowners will receive funding and support for projects to create new habitats for wildlife, help protected sites and boost efforts to reach net zero, alongside sustainable food production, the government has confirmed today (Thursday 18 May).
Building on the success of the first round of the scheme launched last year, farmers and land managers will be able to bid for a share of £15 million initial development funding, with significantly more investment in the years to come as projects move from development to delivery.
This will help them to collaborate and work in partnership to protect and enhance landscapes in England, delivering environmental benefits on a massive scale while supporting farmers to deliver their world-renowned produce.
The second round of the scheme will support up to 25 projects which will be administered by Natural England and the Environment Agency – the lead delivery partners for the scheme. The projects will be selected based on their environmental and social impact, value for money and suitability for the scheme. In addition, for the first time, we have introduced a food production criterion which will be used to ensure prospective projects take food production into consideration and mitigate any negative impacts on this where possible.
It will focus on projects of at least 500 hectares which could include landscape scale projects creating and enhancing woodland including temperate rainforest, peatland, nature reserves and protected sites such as ancient woodlands, wetlands and salt marshes.
Secretary of State for Food and Farming Thérèse Coffey said:
Landscape Recovery is one of our three Environmental Land Management schemes which provide the funding and support for farmers in England through the biggest change in a generation.
The scheme is already supporting 22 inspiring landscape-scale projects across England with development funding and the second round will help more farmers and land managers take collective action through involvement in bespoke projects that will make a real difference in reaching net zero and supporting valuable habitats, while continuing to support sustainable food production.
Projects selected for the first round last year are demonstrating how food production and environmental delivery can go hand in hand. On the Somerset and Dorset border, the River Axe Landscape Recovery project is bringing together 23 farmers, smallholders and landowners, including dairy, beef, sheep and arable farms, to restore a 23.6km stretch of the upper river. The project will support regenerative farming and extensive grazing on the land neighbouring the river corridor to reduce diffuse pollution, phosphates and sediments entering the river, enabling cleaner water to flow.
Funding for Landscape Recovery will be provided from the government’s £2.4 billion annual investment into the farming sector, which is guaranteed for the rest of this Parliament, with every penny of the reductions to farmers’ direct payments reinvested back into farming.
Dr Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said:
Agriculture has a huge role to play in Nature recovery, ensuring that a thriving natural world is at the heart of sustainable food production. Landscape Recovery encourages farmers and land managers to transform Nature at a landscape scale and Natural England will use its advice and relationships to support them every step of the way.
I hope that through this scheme more farmers and land managers will join forces, making significant progress towards the statutory Nature targets and providing the food and public goods that our society depends upon.
Alan Lovell, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:
I welcome the second round of the Landscape Recovery scheme, which is a key opportunity for farmers and land managers who want to focus more specifically on ambitious land-use change and habitat restoration.
The round one projects – only launched in September 2022 – are already showing great promise, such as the River Axe project in Devon supported by the Environment Agency to improve the habitats and water quality of the Axe.
This second round of Landscape Recovery will take us further down the track toward becoming a nation that is resilient to climate change and rich in ecological diversity.
This new round builds on the success of the first round of the scheme last year, which was oversubscribed with high quality applications. The 22 projects selected for the first round focus on recovering and restoring England’s threatened native species and restoring England’s streams and rivers by improving water quality, enhancing biodiversity and adapting to climate change.
Farmers and land managers, including tenants and upland farmers, are at the centre of all the projects. They will be working closely together to deliver a range of environmental benefits across farmland and rural landscapes. This includes creating and enhancing habitats from chalk streams and temperate rainforest to moorland and wetland, restoring over 600km of rivers, and protecting at least 263 species such as water vole, otter, pine marten, lapwing, great crested newt, European eel and marsh fritillary.
The projects range from the Three Dales project in Yorkshire – where a consortium of ten farmers, landowners and conservation organisations led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are aiming to restore a large area of the western Yorkshire Dales uplands, creating habitats for species including black grouse, curlew and ring ouzels – to the Darent Valley Farmer Cluster in Kent which is seeing farmers join forces with Kent Wildlife Trust and more local organisations to carry out chalk stream restoration in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Landscape Recovery programme is one of the government’s three new Environmental Land Management schemes, alongside the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy disproportionately rewarded the biggest farms, with 50% of payments going to the largest 10% of recipients, which wasn’t fair or sustainable for our long term shared aims to protect the dual role of farmers as food producers and stewards of our national environment.
Outside the EU, our new system sees payments made fairly to all farmers in return for their actions, designed in partnership with the industry, and tailored to the specific interests of British farmers.