Restoring a healthy,
beautiful natural environment
path on the Great Hangman with the Little Hangman, Devon
We will take a nature-first approach, restoring the countryside and making it again healthy, beautiful and rich in wildlife.
Our long-term aim is that we want all our land to be permeable to wildlife, so that we see nature thriving across the landscapes rather than confined to patches of habitat
The natural environment is under pressure. Wildlife is in decline and our soils and water are often not in the best of health. During the year, as well as continuing with practical activity on the ground to address these issues, we have been preparing to launch a major new programme of activity in the spring of 2017. This is based on the ‘better, bigger, more and joined up’ approach for nature called for in a Government-commissioned report by Professor Sir John Lawton. We have agreed a number of objectives, with actions to support delivery, to be achieved by 2025:
• The creation or restoration of an extra 25,000 hectares of top-class nature conservation habitat on our own land, representing 10% of our total ownership.
• At least 50% of our farmland will be ‘nature-friendly’ by 2025, with protected hedgerows, field margins, ponds, woodland and other habitats allowing plants and animals to thrive.
• All of our land to have achieved a minimum specified standard of ecological condition by 2025.
• The improvement of our most important nature sites.
Our long-term aim is that we want all our land to be permeable to wildlife, so that we see nature thriving across the landscapes rather than confined to patches of habitat. We want all our soils and water to be in healthy condition, and wildlife to be abundant and diverse. Access is also important because it enriches people’s lives, and we will be improving the welcome and experience across all our sites. Our measures for achieving this will be baselined in 2017.
We have already started work across the Trust in places such as Pentire Farm on the north Cornwall coast where the creation of lowland meadow is underway; yellow rattle seed was introduced on 10 hectares of pasture in the summer of 2016. Our management is also conserving the arable weed flora and particularly benefiting farmland birds. On the Sizergh estate in Cumbria, 27 hectares of priority reed-bed and fen habitat were created in 2015 and are now becoming established. This will benefit wildlife populations of waterfowl, shore birds, herons and warblers around Morecambe Bay as part of a wider habitat network.
Farming remains vital to the Trust’s approach to countryside management. We will work in partnership with tenant farmers to support them to deliver nature-rich, productive, fertile landscapes which are good for wildlife and good for farming.
Many of our 1,800 farm tenants are already farming in a way which benefits wildlife. We will discuss with, listen and learn from them and other groups as we explore how nature-friendly measures could be introduced or enhanced across all our farmed land. This will be particularly important following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, with the challenges facing farm incomes. Supporting sustainable farming will be crucial for the plans to succeed. The future of farming and the environment are inextricably linked – they are reliant on each other to succeed, and both need to thrive.