RSPB teaming up with farmers to save farmland wildlife
NewsMonday 08 July 2013
Threatened farmland wildlife throughout Europe could face a disaster after a new deal was agreed last week on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The deal also moves to undermine the efforts of those farmers who have taken steps in order to make space for nature on their farm.
A large amount of the UK’s most iconic species of wildlife including the skylark, brown hare and the brown hairstreak butterfly, rely on farmland to survive. However, this latest deal means that a lot of the CAP’s annual 50 billion Euro budget will fail to support wildlife and the environment. This will push more species across Europe into the brink.
The State of Nature report was published by 25 conservation and research organisations in the UK last month and it showed that 60% of UK species reliant on farmland are declining.
Therefore, the RSPB is attempting to get the UK government to work hard to save these animals.
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, said: “The deal struck last week is likely to be disastrous for wildlife and the environment across Europe, and it is a poor use of precious public funding. The final deal has favoured vested interests and let down many of Europe’s most progressive farmers who have been working hard to make space for nature and the environment while producing food.”
But Owen Paterson and his counterparts in the devolved countries can still take steps to ensure a better deal for the environment, farmers and the public purse.
“We are now appealing to Owen Paterson, and his counterparts in the other UK countries, to use their full powers to reward those who really deliver the most for wildlife and the environment.”
The UK’s farmers have an essential role to play in conserving wildlife and it is important that they are receiving enough support in order to do so. One way to help these farmers is through the Higher Level Stewardship. But without a transfer from Pillar I to Pillar II Rural Development Programme’s, funding for these schemes will be greatly reduced.
Andrew and Allison Bond, arable farmers from Essex, said “We have been working with the RSPB on our stewardship agreement with great success for a number of years with many birds, butterflies and arable plants on the increase on our farm as a result.
“We support proposals to voluntary modulate funds at 15% from direct payments to the agri-environment budget because we recognise how vital these funds are for wildlife and the sustainability of farming in the future. Another element is the public enjoyment from our wildlife measures on the farm, with many groups now sharing the joy of our successes.
“In austere times it is right to ask for more public benefits from continued public investment, we certainly feel more comfortable producing these benefits from their money and we hope that funds will be transferred to ensure other farms can do the same and enjoy the same successes we have in the future.”
The RSPB is particularly concerned about the shortage of funding available for so-called ‘high nature value’ farming areas. These farmers, often working in some of the most iconic landscapes in the UK help to preserve threatened species and the landscapes they depend upon.