Unlock Duchy's natural millions

Published 03 August 2021

Environment South West
Tregullas Farm, The Lizard, Cornwall

Cornwall’s farmers could benefit from ‘natural capital’ worth millions of pounds, according to a new report.

The Natural Capital Prospectus examines the potential impact of paying farmers in one section of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to restore nature and boost natural capital.

Natural capital is defined as the benefits humans get from nature – ranging from food, medicine and timber to flood prevention, carbon storage, recreation and improved mental and physical health.

The report, published by the Cornwall AONB, produced by Gain Consulting, and supported by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West and the University of Exeter, sets out a ten-year plan – developed with farmers – that would create new natural capital worth between £3.7 million and £15.8 million.

The authors estimate that each £1 invested would bring a £3 return.

The report focusses on section eight of the Cornwall AONB, a protected landscape that includes the Marazion and Mounts Bay coast, and the whole of the Lizard Peninsula, along with the Helford Estuary.

It outlines a landscape recovery framework to improve ecosystems and associated benefits to humans.

Actions to be taken by farmers include restoring Cornish hedgerows, increasing the number of ponds and wetlands, and diversifying land use away from monocultures to provide a richer mix of habitats for birds, insects and mammals.

Cornwall AONB will be able to offer grants to farmers and landowners to deliver for people, place, nature and climate.

Farmer David Oates said: “The Lizard test and trial has been successful at bringing together a range of farmers and stakeholders, showcasing a great opportunity for future nature-friendly land management across our AONB.

“We hope that Defra will use our report to build a future scheme that will protect our unique landscape and support viable, sustainable farm businesses.”

• To find out more visit greenfutures.exeter.ac.uk

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