New Agriculture Bill is vital for the recovery of nature in Dorset

Field Barn Farm, Dorset by Graham Birch

Yesterday the Government published the Agriculture Bill. The recovery of wildlife in Dorset and the UK depends on an Agriculture Bill which enables farmers to create and restore natural habitats. Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) believes that now is the time for agricultural policy to lead nature’s recovery.
  • The Agriculture Bill needs to enable farmers to create and restore natural habitats because 70% of our land is farmed.
  • Landowners should receive public money for producing benefits to society, such as creating habitats for wildlife, conserving soils for future generations and protecting communities against flooding.
  • A successful farming industry needs thriving wildlife because, for example, crops depend on pollination, natural pest control and healthy soils.

DWT Chief Executive Dr Simon Cripps said: “We support the Agriculture Bill’s intention to change how taxpayers’ money will be redirected to spend on making land more healthy, resilient to the sorts of climate change we saw this year, and more productive in these changing times.  It is vital that we recompense landowners for helping to prevent flooding in towns such as Christchurch, create new wildflower meadows for pollinators for example in West Dorset and improve the fortunes of farmland wildlife like barn owls and brown hares across Dorset.  We need, however, an ambitious Bill to arrest decades of wildlife decline and allow natural ecosystems to recover.”

Agriculture policy does not have to choose between wildlife or food production. Farming that works with nature makes economic sense.  Our ability to produce food in this country relies on us having healthy soils and the things that nature gives us, from pollination to natural pest control.

The Government has stated its intention to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.  DWT believes that this Agriculture Bill, with an Environment Act, and clear targets for the recovery of the natural environment, will provide the necessary protection and support for both nature and the farming industry together.

Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.

Farming and The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts own just under 100,000 hectares of land across 2,300 nature reserves. We own 7,500 livestock and 31 working farms; and provide advice to over 5,000 land managers a year on how to be more wildlife friendly on their farms. We believe that farmers should be paid for their work to restore and reconnect wildlife habitats on farms - to create a Nature Recovery Network.

Over half of UK species have declined since 1970 and 15% are extinct or threatened with extinction. The public support increased funding to help wildlife recover on farmland:

1 - A recent WWF poll found that 91% of the UK public want the UK Government to pay farmers to protect nature. The poll also reveals that 85% of the UK public believe there is less wildlife in the country than when they were children. A recent RSPCA poll found that 82% of the UK public want public funding to support higher animal welfare.

2 – See The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and The National Trust, Assessing the costs of Environmental Land Management in the UK, Final Report, 2017.

Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life