Fieldfare 30 - RSPB

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Fieldfare 30 - RSPB

The RSPB UK newsletter

on agriculture and wildlife

FIELDFARE

ISSUE 30 SEPTEMBER 2005

The Fairtrade Foundation

December’s trade talks will be important for farmers, such as these Fairtrade coffee growers

Trade talks important for farmers

December will see the first World Trade Organisation

(WTO) conference since the collapse of trade talks in

Cancún two years ago. The importance of this meeting

for farmers around the world cannot be underestimated.

Negotiations will focus on the rate of tariff cuts, changes

in the nature, and reductions in the size, of domestic

support and the date for phasing out export subsidies.

These are all crucial elements that will determine

whether we can achieve a more sustainable agriculture,

maintain farming in difficult environments and

encourage more wildlife-friendly farming practices.

Ultimately, this will shape how we farm.

An agreement still has to be reached on critical details

of the WTO’s revised agricultural trade rules – most

importantly, the amount of support that can be given to

public policy-related projects, such as agri-environment

schemes. The legitimacy of these is increasingly being

questioned by governments in the WTO.

That said, it is unlikely that the December conference in

Hong Kong will witness a re-run of the embarrassing

breakdown in negotiations that occurred in Cancún.

There is pressure in US domestic politics for the trade

negotiations to conclude by the end of 2006 at the latest.

If the negotiations are rushed, it does not bode well for

the equity and fairness of the final agreement. We are

calling on governments not to lose sight of their

commitments to healthy and sustainable farming.

For further information, contact Jo Phillips

(joanna.phillips@rspb.org.uk)

In this issue:

Shaping Wales’ new Rural Development Plan • What future for the English uplands?

Off-farm wildlife helped by agri-environment schemes • Who’s running UK agriculture?


FIELD OF VIEW

Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Looking after our water

European processes move extraordinarily slowly and rarely in harmony with

one another. But their impacts can be massive. Few would argue that the

CAP has had a greater influence on Europe's wildlife than any other

European policy. The Water Framework Directive has the potential to be the

most powerful environmental law ever passed by Brussels. So, what is the

relationship between these two leviathans?

The drive to clean up Europe’s waters could prove a major impetus for

further CAP reform. Early assessments of the continent’s waters, suggest

that farming practices in many areas remain far from sustainable. Further

CAP reform could address this, by recognising that improving water

quality should be one of the tangible benefits of continued public support

for farming.

We do not expect farmers to make this happen alone or in ways that

damage farm businesses. But we do look to a reformed CAP to enable better

management of soil, nutrients and pesticides and to provide more support

for extensive farming, including the restoration of wildlife habitats, in areas

where the sensitivity of the water environment demands it. Key to this will be

a well-funded rural development programme for 2007–2013.

Graham Wynne

Chief Executive

NEWS

Shaping Wales’ new

Rural Development Plan

The new Rural Development Plan for Wales from 2007–2013 will be discussed

this autumn. The RSPB is calling for measures that actively support wildlife

and rural communities.

The starling has suffered

a 66% decline in Wales in

the past 10 years

More support for agri-environment schemes is needed and we believe that

it’s time to refresh Tir Gofal. While the scheme has been a success, it now

needs to do more to target declining wildlife.

Contributing to this debate, the RSPB and Severn Trent Water recently

launched Lake Vyrnwy farming and conservation – a case study. Assembly

Countryside Minister, Carwyn Jones, said, ‘Lake Vyrnwy shows that viable

farm businesses can be compatible with meeting environmental and rural

development objectives.’

The handbook covers information on our Lake Vyrnwy farm, marketing

organic meat, details of the Berwyn area – from wildlife to water

management, and the impact on the local economy.

Copies of the report and further information are available from

Katie-Jo Luxton (katie-jo.luxton@rspb.org.uk).

Visit www.birdlifecapcam

Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)


NEWS

Off-farm wildlife

helped by agrienvironment

schemes

We have long known the benefits of agri-environment

schemes for farmland wildlife, but a recent RSPB review

suggests that they can also help wildlife outside of farmland.

Pied flycatchers may benefit from

agri-environment schemes too

Farmland is the main habitat throughout much of Europe,

with other habitats existing as fragments within this matrix.

There is now a large body of evidence that shows that

wildlife populations outside farmland habitats are

profoundly influenced by the quality of this matrix.

Not only does all wildlife benefit from less intensive

agriculture, for example through less pesticide spray drift or

ground water pollution, there are also benefits of ‘softening’

the farmed landscape. By creating buffer strips and planting

pollen- and seed-rich mixes, for example, animals that live

in other habitats, such as pied flycatchers, may find it easier

to cross farmland. This will increase the rates that

fragmented habitats are colonised and could reduce

extinctions. This might be particularly important as climate

change forces species to move to new ranges.

While native species can spread more easily, invasive

species appear not to be able to, providing a break on the

spread of alien species. More research is needed to quantify

these wider benefits.

For further information, contact Paul Donald

(paul.donald@rspb.org.uk).

What future for the English uplands?

Mike Read (rspb-images.com)

Curlew

The Department for Environment,

Food and Rural Affair’s review of the

Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) must

allow farmers in less favoured areas

to respond to CAP reform and

Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

support them to provide crucial

public benefits for wildlife, landscape

and water resources in the uplands.

Upland farmers are disadvantaged

by the decision to award them lower

area payments through the single

payment scheme. However, it would

be a mistake to treat the HFA review

as a way of compensating for this.

One option being considered is

enhanced Entry Level Stewardship

(ELS), but there are limited ways

to contribute to the Government’s

upland environmental commitments

through the ELS, as there are few

new suitable measures.

The uplands are important for a wide

range of wildlife and habitats, with

many Sites of Special Scientific

Interest, Biodiversity Action Plan

species and protected landscapes.

They also play a crucial role in water

management. These are the assets

that should be receiving public funds

and the best way to do this is to

merge the HFA budget into the

Higher Level Stewardship to provide

targeted specialist agri-environment

support for the uplands.

For further information,

contact Steven Bailey

(steven.bailey@rspb.org.uk).

paign.org to access our new report on EU a


A vision

revisited

In 2002, the RSPB in Northern Ireland published a

report, Achieving the vision, which highlighted the need

for more money to be allocated to agri-environment

schemes.

With modulated funds now secured, we are again

focusing on agri-environment spend. Our next big target

is maximising benefits for wildlife. An impressive

two-thirds of farmers in Northern Ireland are in

agri-environment schemes and we need to ensure that

all these agreements are top quality.

We launched a leaflet at the Balmoral Show encouraging

farmers to provide year-round feeding and spring

breeding habitat for farmland birds by choosing options

such as rough grass margins, conservation cereals and

wader habitats.

Following a campaign to remind the Government of its

commitments for wildlife, we have produced a document

entitled A living countryside, in which we urge the

Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Yellowhammers in

Northern Ireland

would benefit from

year-round feeding

opportunities

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to

review agreement quality and option uptake, and

ensure that public money brings about genuine

environmental benefits.

For further information, contact Giles Knight

(giles.knight@rspb.org.uk).

More could be

done in Scotland

to help birds such

as the corncrake

LMCs must show

benefits for wildlife

in Scotland

While uptake of the new Land Management Contract (LMC)

Menu Scheme in Scotland has been good, with more than

10,000 applications made, there is a danger that many

farmers and crofters will have chosen options such as

animal health and welfare over agri-environment, thus

limiting the conservation benefits of the scheme.

Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

gri-environment schemes

Coupled with recent disquiet over payment rates for

existing higher tier agri-environment measures in the

Rural Stewardship Scheme, the credibility of agrienvironment

work in Scotland will be compromised,

should LMCs fail to deliver.

The RSPB, in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage,

has commissioned research to look at the environmental,

social and economic value of agri-environment work to

show how it can meet Government objectives, as well

as providing what the public wants. We hope that the

results, available towards the end of this year, will help

develop future schemes and rebuild their credibility.

For further information, contact Mandy Gloyer

(mandy.gloyer@rspb.org.uk).


Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

FEATURE

Who’s running

UK agriculture?

Following the General Election, we have a new line-up of ministers responsible for UK agriculture. All have a vital role

to play in the UK’s rural future. Here’s what we are asking each minister to do during their term in office:

Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord Bach of

Lutterworth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Lords)

(Sustainable Farming and Food) and Jim Knight MP,

Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Commons) (Rural

Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity)

The RSPB urges the Secretary of State to build on her

achievements and press for an overhaul of the entire CAP

budget. We need rural policies that explicitly support the

environmental benefits of farming and a strong rural

development programme if Europe and the UK are to

meet targets of halting biodiversity loss by 2010.

The budgetary disputes in Europe leave the Rural

Development Regulation, agreed in June, vulnerable.

We urge ministers to ensure that rural development

programmes do not face budgetary cuts. We ask Lord

Bach to ensure that the Commons Bill in England and

Wales enables better management on the nearly 50% of

common land Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

that are in unfavourable condition and to ensure the Hill

Farm Allowance review guarantees support to upland

farmers in return for environmental benefits.

Research suggests that at least £75 million a year,

rising to £140 million a year by 2010, will be needed

for recovery plans for our most threatened habitats.

We will need to invest at least £50 million more by

2010 to protect and manage our Sites of Special

Scientific Interest. The Natural Environment and Rural

Communities Bill is likely to be the most significant

legislation for the natural environment since the 1981

Wildlife & Countryside Act and we are calling on Jim

Knight to ensure that where conflict arises, Natural

England’s primary purpose to protect the environment

is explicitly maintained.

Ross Finnie MSP, Scottish Minister for Environment

and Rural Development (Liberal Democrats) since 1999,

and Lewis Macdonald MSP, Deputy Scottish Minister

for Environment and Rural Development (Labour)

The RSPB in Scotland is calling on the ministers of

the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs

Department to honour their agreement to provide

land management contracts (LMCs) for Scottish farmers

and crofters by 2007. To achieve the Government’s

objectives for sustainable Scottish farming, LMCs

need to contain a good balance of environmental

measures and the currently severe budgetary

restrictions must be overcome.

Carwyn Jones (Labour – Bridgend), Welsh Minister for

Environment, Planning and Countryside

The RSPB is concerned that modulation in Wales has

been set at 4.5%. Wales must make a strong commitment

to the future funding and expansion of agri-environment

schemes. Increased modulation in line with the rest of

the UK is the best route to secure rural development

funding crucial for the environmental management of

the countryside.

Rt Hon Lord Jeff Rooker, Minister responsible for

Agriculture and Rural Development

The RSPB in Northern Ireland is calling on Lord Rooker to

continue to build both the quality and quantity of agrienvironment

support for farmers in Northern Ireland. By

2007, we want to see an integrated scheme made up of a

broad and shallow entry-level tier (ELCMS) and a higher

tier (CMS). We are also asking for a working group to be

established to provide a forum for farming and

environmental expertise in the province.

For further information, please contact Sue

Armstrong-Brown (sue.armstrong-brown@rspb.org.uk).


SNIPPETS

From hilltop to tap

Tenant farmers in the north-west of England will soon be

doing even more for wildlife and the state of the environment,

thanks to an exciting project with United Utilities.

The project recognises that sustainable land management

can achieve both conservation aims and provide high

quality drinking water in the catchments where water is

collected. From now until 2010, we are working with United

Utilities (UU) on the Sustainable Catchment Management

Programme (SCaMP).

The project covers 30,000 hectares of UU land in the Peak

District National Park and Bowland, Lancashire. We will

work with tenant farmers to develop management plans.

These will be mainly funded through agri-environment

grants, plus private sector funding from UU.

Habitat management, such as the restoration of blanket

bogs through ‘grip blocking’, re-creation of clough

woodland and extensive grazing systems, will be coupled

with investment in farm infrastructure and business

diversification. Farmers involved will be well placed to

benefit from the financial changes in agricultural support.

Wildlife that will benefit includes wading birds such as

golden plovers, redshanks and snipe.

We hope that UU tenant farmers will show that it is

possible to enhance water quality and meet targets for

favourable condition on Sites of Special Scientific Interest

and targets in the Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan.

For further information, contact Roy Taylor

(roy.taylor@rspb.org.uk).

Ideal habitat for lapwings

is being created in the

North Pennines

Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Pastures for plovers

We are providing advice to farmers in the North

Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to

help wading birds such as lapwings (left) in our Pastures

for plovers project. More than 90 farmers attended

demonstration days earlier this year.

We are grateful for support from English Nature, the

Countryside Agency, North Pennines Leader+

Programme and The Northern Rock Foundation.

For further information, contact Rebecca Cash

(rebecca.cash@rspb.org.uk).

Help for wetland birds

RSPB work to restore and re-create wetlands at four sites in

Cumbria will provide big benefits for breeding wading birds.

As part of the Cumbria wetland bird recovery programme,

we hope to increase the populations of breeding wading

birds at each site by 83 pairs by 2010. The work will also

help yellow wagtails (right) and bitterns.

Since 2001, more than 250 hectares of wet grassland have

been restored in Cumbria. We are working with farmers, the

Environment Agency, the Cumbria Bird Club and others.

For further information, contact Tonia Armer

(tonia.armer@rspb.org.uk or phone 01539 792800).

Yellow wagtail numbers

have declined sharply over

the past 30 years

Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

CONTACT US

If you have any comments about FieldFare or the topics

discussed in this issue, please send them to Lucy Bjorck,

FieldFare Editor, at The Lodge (lucy.bjorck@rspb.org.uk).

The RSPB is the UK charity working to secure a

healthy environment for birds and wildlife, helping

to create a better world for us all. We belong to

BirdLife International, the global partnership of

bird conservation organisations.

The RSPB, UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire

SG19 2DL Tel: 01767 680551

Scotland Headquarters, Dunedin House, 25 Ravelston Terrace,

Edinburgh EH4 3TP Tel: 0131 311 6500

Northern Ireland Headquarters, Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast

BT8 7QT Tel: 028 9049 1547

Wales Headquarters, Sutherland House, Castlebridge,

Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff CF11 9AB Tel: 029 2035 3000

www.rspb.org.uk

Registered charity no 207076 222-0546-04-05

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