A new report Assessing the costs of environmental land management in the UK commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and the National Trust, shows how much Government might need to pay farmers and land managers for their role in looking after our natural heritage.
The report estimates that meeting existing government commitments to improving natural assets such as water quality, soil health and biodiversity will cost £2.3 billion per year. But meeting existing commitments will not be sufficient to halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife and reverse this trend.
£2.3 billion is five times more than is currently spent through agri-environment schemes – the source of most current environmental land management funding. This figure does not include wider financing required in the farming sector, for example for research and development or providing advice to farmers.
The total includes £876m for protecting and improving priority habitats, which include woodlands, marshes, bogs and fens; £402m for hedges and stone walls; and £78m for flood plains.
Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager, of The Wildlife Trusts said: 'Farmers can sell the food they grow through the market. But they can’t sell a whole range of services that society needs them to provide, whether it’s reducing the risk of floods downstream, creating habitat for bees or improving the health of our soils. The Wildlife Trusts believe that farmers should be paid for this as it benefits us all. A healthy, wildlife-rich natural world is valuable in its own right and is also at the core of people’s well-being and prosperity. We must be prepared to pay for these benefits.'
Christopher Price, head of policy at the Country Land and Business Association said that government agri-environmental schemes were over bureaucratic and fragmented and drew attention to the CLBA's vision of a land management contract.
The associated policy briefing can be found here: Policy briefing