National land management charity the Land Trust has responded to the Government Environment Audit Committee’s inquiry on the future of the natural environment post BREXIT, urging Government to replace farming subsidies with subsidies to reward landowners for managing their land sustainably, helping improve our country’s natural assets and connecting more people with nature.
The existing EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes have been subsiding landowners for decades, in the main, simply for owning land, and this has resulted in intensive farming practices due to pressures in the food supply chain. This has had detrimental effects on the natural environment, driven many species of wildlife into decline, led our natural assets into degradation and made land less accessible for communities to engage with nature, leading to costly negative impacts on the environment, economy and society.
This is backed up by the recent 2016 State of Nature Report, demonstrating that agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.
In its response, the Land Trust wants Government to seize this opportunity and:
– Reset policy to reward responsible landowners who ensure that the health of the land is well managed, maintained and improved to protect our natural assets, support biodiversity and benefit society long term.
– Provide guidance and support for landowners on how to manage their land sustainably, balancing its economic value whilst enhancing its environmental value, to benefit society and nature in rural and urban areas
– Develop future schemes that focus on the long term, enabling landowners to deliver real benefits and enable the land to be resilient against the impacts of climate change
– Ensure rural and urban natural environments, including green infrastructure are enhanced, to deliver multiple benefits to society, the economy and the environment
– Maximise opportunities for people to engage with nature, bringing about social benefits and improved health and wellbeing.
Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust said “It is only through sustainable land management that we will be able to restore and improve our natural assets, protect and enhance biodiversity and ensure our land is resilient to flooding and other effects of climate change. By doing this, our economy and the health and wellbeing of communities will benefit. But to achieve this, there needs to be Government will and the right financial incentives in place.”
Government has already committed to leaving the natural environment in a better state for the next generation through a 25 year plan, so the Land Trust hopes that Government will use the funding wisely to focus on improving the land we have, as this will ultimately benefit society, the economy and the natural environment.