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At last ? A Common Sense Agricultural Policy

New Future For Farming And Wildlife

The English countryside will change for the better, predicts the RSPB today (Thursday 3 March 2005), if farmers take full advantage of a new government payment scheme to restore wildlife to their land. Launched today, the Environmental Stewardship scheme will reward those farmers who bring measures, such as wildlife-friendly farming techniques, on to their land.

Graham Wynne, the RSPB`s chief executive, said: Intensive farming has wreaked havoc with many of our best loved countryside birds. The Skylark, Yellowhammer, Turtle Dove, Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge all rely on farmland to survive, but none of these birds can compete with the efficiency of modern farming and all have more than halved in number since the 1970s. We know that many farmers have been troubled by these declines too, but now they have a financial incentive to provide the habitat, food and shelter these birds need to thrive. On many occasions farmers have come to the fore; we call on them today to rise to the new challenge of restoring birdsong to the countryside.The Environmental Stewardship scheme, is divided into two parts: the Entry Level Scheme aims to encourage more than two-thirds of farmers in England to adopt some basic elements of environmentally-friendly farming; while the Higher Level Scheme provides more funding targeted towards those farmers who can make a significant difference to the wildlife on their land. Both schemes will be launched by Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on Thursday 3 March, 2005.

To help farmers to apply for the scheme, the RSPB and the University of Hertfordshire have produced a CD-Rom guiding applicants through the various options. Farmers and landowners eligible for the scheme will be able to claim ?30 per hectare (around ?12.50 per acre) to incorporate a variety of measures, including creating patches in cereal crops for Skylark, improved hedgerow management and creating areas rich in wild flowers to increase insect abundance.

4th July 2014