The NFU Landscape and Access report sets out that the government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) must be accessible to all farmers and reward them for the role they are best placed to play in maintaining and improving their landscape.
With over a year passing since the Glover review into our landscapes, and still no government response, the report reveals that:
- The public has rights of access on more than 225,000km of public rights of way in England and Wales, which is the equivalent distance of 15 trips to Australia.
- Farmers maintain more than 411,000km of hedgerows in England and Wales, enough to wrap around the earth’s equator more than 10 times.
- Farmland is the destination of 48% of visits to the natural environment in England, totaling around 4.1 billion visits every year.
The report sets out five key policy asks:
- Every farmer has a contribution to make; future Environment Land Management schemes must be open and accessible to all farmers, simple to access, with fair reward for maintaining and improving landscape features (e.g. stone walls or traditional farm buildings) and access (e.g. permissive access and engaging/educating the public) across the countryside.
- Where landscape scale impact is desirable, government must ensure projects are developed and led by farmers to harness their local knowledge of what works, where.
- To help deliver agriculture’s net zero aspiration, incentives should be offered for the conservation of our carbon resources as well as their enhancement. This can be achieved through the provision of bigger hedgerows, more woodland and especially carbon rich soils.
- Considering the Glover review recommendations, the NFU calls on protected landscape bodies to actively recognise and enable the thriving, viable farm businesses that manage the landscape.
- The development of a modern and adaptable public access network that meets the needs of users and farm businesses.
NFU President Minette Batters said:
“For generations farmers have created and maintained the iconic British countryside we all enjoy today, supporting rural economies and providing high quality, safe food for the nation. Our working landscapes will continue to change but the one constant is those farmers managing and shaping this land.
“The combination of the ordinary everyday role of producing our food helps to create the extraordinary landscape we all cherish. Features such as hedges, trees, cattle grazing fields and crops being harvested all contribute to the wonderfully varied landscapes we see today. They are all a direct result of farmers’ dual role as food producers and custodians of our countryside. Rewarding farmers for this work not only makes economic sense, it also ensures those with expertise stay on the land, doing the job we value so much.
“We are at a pivotal time for the future of farming and the countryside. We are already doing so much for the environment, but with the right policies in place we can do so much more. Whether it is incentives to conserve carbon through the soil, manage bigger hedgerows or plant more woodland, we do need policies that work together to support the delivery of agriculture’s net zero ambition and to ensure we have a farmed environment that can both feed the nation and thrive with wildlife.”
Watch and share our video, showcasing why British farmers should be rewarded for the work they do to look after the British countryside:
The NFU has produced a new set of infographics, containing facts and figures that can be shared on social media.
Here's a selection of graphics for you to download, and keep an eye on NFUtweets for more shareable facts.
How to use these infographics:
Use the green buttons to download the infographics and save them to your computer or device. Share the infographics on your social media accounts to help showcase the best of British farming.
More from NFUonline:
- Farming organisations set out proposals for future ELMs programme
- Watch again: First NFU Live event unlocks the future of environmental support
- Future environmental support: Your questions answered
- Environmental Land Management scheme - what we know so far
- What is the Sustainable Farming Incentive?
- NFU Live: Events from the NFU this autumn
- Watch now: Your weekly video update from the President