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Chris Packham: Farmers must be better appreciated for role in protecting wildlife

It comes as part of a push to encourage others to consider nature friendly farming, something said to be ‘key to the long-term survival and success of British farming’.

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Farmers must be better appreciated for role in protecting wildlife, says Chris Packham

Farmers should be better respected for their role in protecting and supporting wildlife, according to BBC presenter Chris Packham.

 

The naturist said he wanted to help reverse what he called the UK’s ‘troubled’ landscape and instead encourage a wider expectation of wildlife ‘all around us’.

 

It came in the form of his 10-day ‘bioblitz’ tour – a field study to record all living species within a designated area.

 

Data taken from each site will be used as a benchmark to monitor the rise and fall of farmland species in the future.

 

Mr Packham said: “I am doing this because I want to highlight that the UK’s landscape is in big trouble.


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“We should have a far greater expectation of having wildlife around us all of the time, but sadly we find ourselves going to nature reserves.

 

“We need to appreciate the role of farmers in protecting and supporting wildlife. We want wildlife everywhere; nature reserves are not enough.”

 

Powerful role

It comes in an attempt to tackle the fall in farmland wildlife, including farm birds which have dropped 54 per cent since 1970, and the farmland butterfly index which has fallen by 36 per cent since 1990.

 

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) put it down to changes in agricultural practices.

 

Martin Lines of Papley Grove Farm, Cambridgeshire, who Mr Packham is visiting as part of the tour tomorrow (July 22), said careful changes to the way he farms has boosted barn owl numbers, as well as a rise in nesting habitats for birds under threat, such as skylarks and turtle doves.

He said: “Many species rely on farmers for their survival. By carefully changing the way we run our farm we have found that we can play a powerful role in helping wildlife recover and thrive.

 

“I feel lucky when I see our wildflower areas and hedgerows attract lots of bees and new butterfly species, and I love the fact that rare species such as skylarks and corn buntings soar overhead singing while I work on the land.”

 

He prompted others to consider nature friendly farming, something he said was ‘not just good for wildlife’ but ‘key to the long-term survival and success of British farming’.

 

Mr Lines added: “By working together, we can enhance and improve our countryside for all to benefit, but we need the right government policies and public support in place to help us fulfill the potential farmland has for conservation.”

Survey results

With wildlife on a continuous downwards spiral, the public has encouraged British farmers to keep up their good work producing food and protecting the environment.

 

According to a new survey from the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN), 98 per cent of respondents thought a farmers’ role was to provide habitats for wildlife, as well as producing food.

 

A further 73 per cent said the way the countryside was managed had gotten worse in recent years, while 95 per cent said they were concerned farming had a negative impact on wildlife.

 

100 per cent of people however said they wanted to see more active support from British supermarkets in supporting farming in a more nature friendly way, with 98 per cent hoping to see more Government support for farmers – including ensuring a fair market return for the food they produce.

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