National Trust Reaction to Government Announcement on New Agri-environment Scheme

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the National Trust, said: “We welcome Defra’s announcement today that the new agri-environment scheme will build on the existing approach. But the proof it is working will be the money which flows into rebuilding our most fragile soils, slowing down and improving the quality of water, and re-connecting threatened habitats and wildlife. With limited funding available it will be more important than ever for Defra to ensure that support nurtures landscape-scale restoration and recovery as well as securing the future of individual protected sites.

“In the light of recent catastrophic floods, which have washed away so much precious, fertile soils, Defra must also follow through on its promise to make direct subsidies as ‘green’ as possible. This means ensuring management protects the fundamental, natural building blocks which allow wildlife to thrive and great food to be produced. A competitive future for farming is dependent on securing these natural foundations.”

To see the full announcement made by Farming Minister, George Eustice, click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-environmental-scheme-for-farmers-to-prioritise-biodiversity

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Studland beach: forecast – changeable

Mike Collins is a Senior Press Officer with the National Trust. Following a visit to Studland Beach, he tells us how the winter storms have affected this coastal beauty spot.

Studland on the Dorset coast is a classic beach; golden sands with a dramatic seascape from east to west and town ebbing into countryside. More than a million people every year come to this jewel on the south coast seaside.

This popular and much-loved beach is on the front-line of how our coastline is changing and the challenges of managing the scale and pace of change that is happening now.

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Never underestimate a butterfly

Matthew Oates is the National Trust’s Nature and Wildlife Expert. He reflects on the results of the latest Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.

Great to have it scientifically confirmed that, as suggested in the Trust’s review of 2013’s weather and wildlife, our farmland and garden butterflies fared well last year.  The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey, run by Butterfly Conservation in association with BTO and CEH, shows that most of our so-called ‘common’ butterflies bounced back spectacularly, after the annus horribilis of 2012.

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South West gardens blooming despite the weather for Valentine’s flower count

  • Rare rhododendron in flower for second time in 30 years
  • Snowdrop voted top spring bloom

Surprisingly, the recent unprecedented wet weather seems to have had very little affect so far on National Trust gardens in the South West with the annual spring spectacular already under way.  

Volunteer Hayley Jones helps out at the National Trust's annual valentine's day flower count. Credit Steve Haywood

Volunteer Hayley Jones helps out at the National Trust’s annual valentine’s day flower count. Credit Steve Haywood

Gardeners and volunteers at 23 National Trust places across the South West took part in the annual Valentine’s Day flower count which first started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006. Continue reading

Ancient trees brace themselves against the weather

Brian Muelaner is the National Trust’s Ancient Tree Advisor (@NTancienttrees). Here he explains how the recent weather has affected our ancient trees.

We’ve heard all about the incredible storms which have battered the coast in the South West and Wales over recent months, causing devastation in their wake.  We have seen some of the most dramatic images showing the enormous combined power of wind and wave. And we’ve witnessed the effects of staggering amounts of rain causing flooding, the destruction of railways, landslips and the tragic loss of irreplaceable personal belongings and the heartache this has caused.

What’s less well recorded are the accumulative effects from the continued rain and wind on some of our most significant trees. National Trust properties have been recording the heaviest tree losses since the great storms of 1987 and 1990. Although the tree losses are nowhere near as bad, it is none the less very significant.

Properties are losing some of their most important parkland trees, which are several hundred years old, through a combination of high winds tearing trees apart and saturated soils reducing the trees’ ability to anchor themselves against the punishing winds.

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The Signs of Spring

February can be the last month of winter, or the first of spring.  Last year it was the former, this year it could well be the latter.

By February we are desperate for signs of spring, as January is the slowest and least loved month.  Luckily, February is full of the little beacons of hope that tell us spring is on its way.  But many of these signs are subtle, and easily missed.

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