Future of farming

Future of Farming

Clattinger Farm - Barney Wilczak

Farming and wildlife

Over 70% of the UK’s land is farmed in some way – so how this land is managed has a big impact on wildlife. Agriculture policy therefore shapes our countryside. For decades this has often been at the expense of wildlife and natural habitats, and The Wildlife Trusts are working with farmers and government to change this. The recovery of wildlife in the UK depends on a farming policy which enables farmers to create and restore a thriving natural environment alongside domestic food production. 

It's now or never

A thriving natural environment is fundamental to the security of the economy and wellbeing of society, but it is under strain: pollinators and natural habitats are in decline; carbon is escaping from our exhausted soils and rather than holding water, our soils are washing into our rivers and flowing out to sea.

Our wildlife has suffered with a 56% decline in biodiversity, with many species at risk of extinction.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to make Wales a truely sustainable nation. We must use this unique moment to fix the problems we have created. We should invest in the restoration of our land and wildlife so that it can continue to provide us with all the things we need: sustainable and nutritious food, wildlife habitats, flood and drought management, clean water and air, carbon storage and places for us to enjoy

Wildflowers at Bonhurst Farm, Surrey Wildlife Trust -

James Adler

How can we achieve this?

We need to put the health of our environment at the heart of our future sustainable land management policy. This means changing the current system and designing a new farming and land management scheme that is based on environmental outcomes and public goods.

How much public investment is needed?

To help our wildlife and environment recover we need to invest in our land and countryside, at a higher level than we currently are. Just to stay still and meet current domestic and international environmental commitments Wales would need to invest £204 million annually in its farmed environment. It is an upfront investment in our life support system, the underpinning of our society and economy, and compares to and enhances Welsh Government budgets for health and for education.

Farmers need to be rewarded for delivering benefits they can’t sell but that society needs.

Eight great benefits

Following the principles, a new approach to sustainable land management should deliver great benefits for our economy, society, culture, and the environment.

More, bigger and better natural habitats

Our remaining areas of natural habitat - peatlands, woodlands, grasslands, heathlands and wetlands should be protected, restored and expanded so that they are adapted and they can adapt and be resilient.

Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Thriving wildlife everywhere

We need to restore and expand priority habitats and reverse species decline. Wildlife needs to be able to thrive beyond protected areas and nature reserves. We need to create a connected, nation-wide network of habitats – combining smaller areas of habitat and hedgerows with bigger natural areas.

Tom Marshall

Abundant pollinators

Wild pollinator populations should be increasing year on year if we are to avoid a crisis in food production and ecosystem health.

Josh Kubale

Healthy soils

Healthy soils are fundamental to insect life and natural fertility and health must be restored to our soils. A range of measures will be necessary to achieve this.

Clean water

Our country needs healthy streams, rivers and wetlands. Currently our rivers are carrying too much sediment, too many chemicals5 and high levels of nutrients derived from agricultural land.

Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

Clean air and climate change mitigation

Use of non-renewable resources in agriculture should be reduced and greenhouse gas emissions lowered.

Peter Cairns/2020VISION

Flood risk management

Natural solutions should be used much more widely to absorb and slow the flow of water.

Clare James/Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Healthy people

More people should be able to enjoy beautiful natural environments rich in wildlife.

Adrian Clarke

Farmland habitats and wildlife

Read more

A future policy for land in Wales: investing in our natural resources