National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards 2016 announced at BBC Countryfile Live

Neil Amiss herding his Lleyn cross flock

Tregullas Farm, winners of the inaugaral ‘Farming with Nature’ award ©National Trust Images/Jason Ingram

Tregullas Farm, the most southerly farm on mainland Britain, was the winner of the National Trust’s first-ever ‘Farming with Nature’ award at its Fine Farm Produce Awards ceremony yesterday.

Against the stunning backdrop of Blenheim Palace, BBC Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison and Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, presented this special award to farmers Rona and Nevil Amiss in the National Trust Cookery Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live.

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National Trust calls for major reforms of farming subsides post-Brexit to reverse the damage to the natural environment

  • Brexit provides opportunity to reset entire system for subsidising farming industry
  • Farmers should only be rewarded for managing land in nature-friendly way
  • Current £3bn a year payments must deliver public benefit beyond food production
  • 60% of species in decline partly due to intensive farming methods
Pentire Farm at Trevose Head, Cornwall.

Pentire Farm at Trevose Head, Cornwall. Credit National Trust/John Miller.

The National Trust today (Thursday, August 4) called on government to put the recovery and future resilience of the natural environment at the heart of the funding system that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The conservation charity said reform was essential to reverse decades of damage to the countryside and the headlong decline of species.

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the Trust, will tell an audience at the National Trust Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live that the vote to leave the European Union presents an urgent opportunity to shape a new and better system for stewardship of the countryside.

She will call for a system that increases the benefit to the public of a beautiful, natural environment rich in nature and wildlife and that secures the long term health and productivity of the land on which our farming depends.

It is essential to act now as 60% of species have declined in the UK over the last 50 years. Habitats, breeding grounds and food sources have been lost, soils have become depleted and natural fertility impoverished.

This has happened in large part due to the industrialised farming methods incentivised by successive funding regimes since the Second World War. So it is not the fault of farmers but the fault of the system which is flawed and expensive.

Farmers currently receive £3.1 billion a year through the EU’s CAP.

Helen Ghosh said: “Whatever your view of Brexit, it gives us an opportunity to think again about how and why we use public money to create the countryside we want to hand on to future generations. Unless we make different choices, we will leave an environment that is less productive, less rich and less beautiful than that which we inherited.

“Taxpayers should only pay public subsidy to farmers in return for things that the market won’t pay for but are valued and needed by the public.

“We may need some kind of transition period to get there but that means payments for goods that go beyond food production – for the wildflowers, bees and butterflies that we love, for the farmland birds, now threatened, for the water meadows and meandering rivers that will help prevent the flooding of our towns, and for the rebuilding of the fertility and health of the soils on which both nature and production depend.

“In the long run there’s no conflict between maintaining our ability to grow food and looking after the land and nature on which it depends. The first is utterly dependent on the second.

“This is not just about the subsidy system but the way the market works. Farmers should get a proper return from retailers and food manufacturers.  If they are also producing clean water, unflooded streets or great holiday experiences, they should also get a proper return from the utilities or tourism industry.

“Farmers are key partners in finding solutions but this is too important to leave to governments and farmers to sort out between themselves.

“We would encourage ministers to now consult widely on the way we fund farming in a post-Brexit world and involve the public in the debate, along with organisations who have experience and insights to share.”

Dame Helen set out six principles that any new system must deliver for the public:

  1. Public money must only pay for public goods. Currently, most of a £600m pot from the EU (out of the £3.1bn CAP funding) benefits wildlife and the environment. The majority of the remainder is allocated based on the size of farm. There will need to be a transition to the new world but this basic income support payment should be removed.
  1. It should be unacceptable to harm nature but easy to help it. Currently, only 1/3 of the basic payment is conditional on meeting ‘green’ farming standards. In the future, 100% of any public payment should be conditional on meeting higher standards of wildlife, soil and water stewardship.
  1. Nature should be abundant everywhere.  The system needs to support nature in the lowlands as well as the uplands – people in towns and cities also need access to wildlife, recreation and the services the environment provides.
  1. We need to drive better outcomes for nature, thinking long-term and on a large scale. Nature doesn’t respect farm boundaries and needs joined up habitats on a landscape scale with subsidies implemented on a farm-by-farm basis. In the future, we should start at the landscape level, with farmers and landowners working collaboratively to set plans based on clear outcomes.
  1. Farmers that deliver the most public benefit, should get the most. Currently, the more land you own, the more money you get. In the future, those farmers and land managers who get the most public money should be those who deliver the best outcomes. 
  1. We must invest in science, new technology and new markets that help nature. Currently, some science and technology harms nature – it increases crop yields with big machines and harmful fertilizers. In the future, public money should help create ways of farming that benefit nature and help develop new markets to reward farmer for storing carbon, preventing floods and promoting biodiversity.

 

National Trust rangers in Brecon Beacons call in helicopter help for essential path conservation work

As the nation celebrates National Parks Week (25-31 July), National Trust rangers have called in helicopter support to carry out essential conservation work on footpaths on Corn Du, the second highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales.

 

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(c) National Trust Images / Graham Bettiss

Over two days earlier this month a fuel-efficient SD2 Squirrel helicopter flew 160 tonnes of local sandstone to rangers on Corn Du. One tonne of this ‘scalping’ stone will cover around two metres of footpath.

An estimated 300,000 people visit National Trust places in the Brecon Beacons every year. By regularly repairing footpaths, rangers from the conservation charity help minimise soil erosion on the hill and prevent damage to the rare plants that grow on the hillside, such as Purple Saxifrage, the most southerly arctic-alpine plant in Britain.

The National Trust cares for over 3,300 hectares (8,200 acres) and 43 miles of path in the Welsh National Park, including southern Britain’s highest mountain, Pen-y-Fan. Continue reading

The humble stick revealed as the must-have toy for summer.

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EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY JULY 27 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Children play in the forest with sticks to launch The National Trust’s ’50 Things To Do Before Your 11 ¾’ campaign, National Trust Osterley Park, Middlesex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 26, 2016. Research commissioned for the charity reveals that 84% of parents believe a stick is the perfect catalyst for inspiring their children’s creative urges whilst 91% of parents surveyed feel the great outdoors is the perfect environment for inspiring their kids’ imaginative adventures. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Recent research has shown that children are now spending only half as much time playing outdoors as their parents’ generation did. If you’re concerned that your kids aren’t getting enough time out in the fresh air then help is at hand – in the form of the simple stick.

We conducted a survey which showed that 84% of parents believe that playing outdoors makes their children more imaginative and creative, while 96% felt it was important for children to have a connection with nature.

These findings are supported by Child Developmental Psychologist Dr. Sam Wass, who  said ‘Being outdoors, with space to run around, is something that benefits all children… they have to use their imagination and their own creativity much more than they do when they are indoors, watching screen media. [These] are vital life skills that will help children stay attuned to nature and to the environment throughout their adult lives.’

The survey also analysed the benefits of a range of toys, with the simple stick voted the best for fuelling children’s imaginative play and creativity.In addition, 83 per cent of parents know it’s important for their kids to be able to use technology , so that it benefits them in future adulthood, however 90 per cent would still prefer their child to be outdoors developing a relationship with nature instead.

As part of our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign, we’re encouraging families across the country to get outdoors and start their story with nature. We’ve teamed up with musician Raleigh Ritchie to celebrate all the weird and wonderful adventures you can have with a stick that make it the must-have toy of the summer.

In a change of scene from his Game of Thrones role as Grey Worm, Raleigh has written a rap to support the campaign; bringing to life the never-ending possibilities of creative play when you’ve got a stick to hand.

‘For some people, a stick is just a stick’ said Raleigh, ‘However, I want to encourage young people to see that actually the possibilities are endless. It can be a pen, a sword, a witch’s broom…anything! That’s what childhood should be about – getting outdoors and going on adventures, using your imagination.’

As a conservation charity, we’re dedicated to looking after special outdoors places and making them accessible for everyone to enjoy. Ed Anderson, National Trust ranger at Osterley Park in London said: ‘With the natural environment under pressure, we hope that instilling a love for nature in our children now will help us encourage them to continue to protect the beauty of the great outdoors for  generations to come.’

Sticks aren’t just for the kids, either: ‘We’re all big kids at heart’ adds Raleigh, ‘It’s never too late to have some fun and start your story with nature’.

For more information on  ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign, head to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50things or search #50things. You can also get a taster of some of the 50 things at BBC Countryfile LIVE (4-7 Aug) with den building, tree climbing and bug hunting just a few of the outdoor adventures on offer.

 

 

66 miles of new England Coast Path opens in Kent

The National Trust is today supporting the launch of 66 miles of the England Coast Path in Kent and East Sussex.

The conservation charity cares for six miles of coastline in Kent, including the White Cliffs of Dover and Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve.

An event marking the opening of the path will take place at the National Trust’s White Cliffs visitor centre.

The England Coast Path is an initiative of Natural England, the government’s natural environment agency. When the full path opens in 2020, the 2,700 mile long England Coast Path will be the longest continuous walking trail in the world.

Visitors walking their dog along the clifftop at The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, on a sunny day in August.

Visitors walking their dog along the clifftop at The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, on a sunny day in August.(c) National Trust Images / John Millar

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National Trust launches £250,000 coastal appeal to protect stunning Cornish clifftop

A £250,000 fundraising appeal is today  being launched by the National Trust to raise money to protect and care for Trevose Head near Padstow in Cornwall.

The fund will enable the conservation charity to extend areas of existing wildlife habitat on Trevose, whilst retaining other areas as arable farmland. Both are important in supporting rare wildlife. National Trust rangers will also create new footpaths, opening up the headland for visitors.

Thanks to the generosity of people who have left gifts to the National Trust in their Wills, the Trust is able to commit significant funds towards the purchase of Trevose Head.

Trevose Head -55 by John Miller

Trevose Head (c) National Trust Images / John Miller

 

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Shortlist for Wainwright Prize 2016 revealed

Publisher Frances Lincoln, in association with the National Trust, has today announced the shortlist for The Wainwright Prize 2016, an annual award to celebrate the best UK nature and travel writing.

Wainwright

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