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Nature Friendly Farming Biodiversity Drive

Natural England & Conservation Grade to collaborate

A landmark agreement has been reached between Natural England, the government’s advisor on the natural environment, and the Conservation Grade Nature Friendly Farming scheme to work together to increase biodiversity on farms across the country.

As well as recognising the roles of farmers and government, this agreement will mobilise the huge potential of food brands and their consumers to support the restoration and management of nature throughout the food chain.

Natural England’s director of land management, Ian Fugler, said Conservation Grade’s involvement in on-farm research and its innovative market-led approach could be a key element in the delivery of the ‘sustainable intensification’ agenda in the UK, as well as elsewhere in the EU.

‘‘It is vital that an increase in production fully considers the impact on the environment, and measures are put into place to ensure that farmland biodiversity is protected and enhanced,’’ he said. “Conservation Grade has been driving forward this agenda for some years and we are pleased to be working with an organisation that has so much experience in delivering profitable farming in a sustainable, wildlife friendly way.”Conservation Grade, in which farmers create and manage specific wildlife habitats on their least productive land, follows a scientific approach that has seen up to a 41 per cent increase in birds and a thirty fold increase in small mammals such as water voles.

Tim Nevard, chief executive of Conservation Grade, says he is delighted that Natural England recognise the expertise within the Conservation Grade Nature Friendly Farming team, and is looking forward to an extremely fruitful working relationship.

“Restoring biodiversity on farmland has to be a priority or we simply won’t be able to maintain the natural capital required to sustainably meet the massive global increases in demand for food that are forecast,” he said.

“The partnership between Natural England, as the deliverer of publicly-funded agri-environment schemes, and Conservation Grade, which has established commercial arrangements with such well-known brands as Allinson, Jordans and Vitacress to drive farmland conservation, can only go from strength to strength.”

4th July 2014