New funding available for farming in National Parks and AONBs

Baggator Farm © Caroline

Farmers and land managers across the South West’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) could benefit from a new Defra-funded grant programme.

Defra’s ‘Farming in Protected Landscapes’ (http://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers-in-protected-landscapes) programme is open now, with potential applicants encouraged to register their interest with their local protected landscape. It closes on 31st January, 2022.

With so many protected landscapes in the South West, including Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks and no less than 12 AONBs, it is hoped that the new funding will help with the transition to the new ways of Defra supporting farming that are being rolled out over the next few years.

The programme has been developed by Defra with the support of a group of AONB and National Park staff from across the country.
It will provide funding for one-off projects that allow farmers and land managers in protected landscapes to:

  • support nature recovery – such as increasing habitats to improve biodiversity or greater connectivity between habitats;
  • mitigate the impacts of climate change – such as reducing flood risk or storing more carbon;
  • provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage;
  • support nature-friendly and sustainable farm businesses.

Projects could include creating wetlands or wildflower meadows to support a variety of wildlife, providing new or easier public access, reducing flood risk, providing interpretation of farming nature and heritage, parking improvements at key sites to provide safe access and reduce congestion, restoring drystone walls or hedges, conserving historic features such as lime kilns or mining heritage or action to reduce carbon emissions or use of plastics on farms.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers (including from the private, public and charity sector) in a National Park or AONB in England – or where activity on the ground can bring benefit to one or more of those areas. It is a programme of funding for one-off projects rather than an agri-environment scheme, as part of the next step in the Government’s plans for a renewed agriculture sector.

Dartmoor National Park Authority Chief Executive Kevin Bishop, said: “Farming and land management are intrinsically important to what makes Dartmoor National Park so special as well as its conservation, cultural heritage and the protection of its rare habitats and wildlife. It remains an important part of the economy and the Dartmoor way of life. This is a great opportunity for farmers and land managers – whether in the private, public or charitable sectors. Funding can help support sustainable farm business, nature recovery, tackle climate change and offer opportunities for people to access Dartmoor in new or improved ways.”

Farming in Protected Landscapes is a programme of funding that is part of the Agricultural Transition Plan. It will work alongside – not in competition with – Defra’s existing and new schemes, adding value where it is most needed.

Farmers who take part in a project funded through the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme can also take part in one of the three environmental land management schemes when they open.
In the long term, it is expected that these three schemes (the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery scheme and Landscape Recovery scheme) will play an important role in our Protected Landscapes.

Exmoor National Park Authority Chief Executive Sarah Bryan, said: “It’s good to see a brand-new funding stream in recognition of the important role farming plays in caring for and increasing public access to our protected landscapes.

‘The huge potential to scale up this work was immediately apparent following work we recently completed with the Exmoor Hill Farming Network to trial how Defra’s proposed changes to support for environmental land management might work in practice.

‘We want these changes to be positive for farming and positive for our beautiful landscape, capitalising on the many examples of good land management we already have here in the National Park. We would love to hear from anyone interested in discussing how Defra’s Farming in Protected Landscapes programme might support their ideas.”

Farmers and land managers can find out more and register their interest by visiting the National Park’s website
(https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/living-and-working/farming/farming-in-protected-landscapes) .

Author: Laura White

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