Tenant farmers are at the heart of ambitious new plans from the National Trust to reverse the decline in wildlife on all land in its ownership.
Working in partnership with its 1,500 farm tenants, the Trust has set out an aim to create 25,000 hectares of new habitats by 2025 by making at least 50 per cent of farmland ‘nature-friendly’.
Under the plans, hedgerows, field margins, ponds and woodland will be protected, and new habitats such as lowland meadows and wetlands will be created.
Peter Nixon, director of land, landscape and nature at the National Trust, said: “Our charity was founded to protect our natural as well as cultural heritage and we believe we should be playing an active role in reviving nature by doing what we can on our own land.
“Nature has been squeezed out to the margins for far too long. We want to help bring it back to the heart of our countryside.”
Chief executive of the Tenant Farmers’ Association George Dunn said he was pleased to see the National Trust’s determination to work positively on conservation issues with its tenant farmers.
“Accepting that it has much to learn from working in partnership with its tenants who are already farming to high environmental standards, the National Trust must now put in place the practical arrangements to deliver this”, he added.
“Farm tenants will be heartened by the National Trust’s clearly expressed position that good environmental management in the countryside cannot be divorced from the achievement of productive and sustainable farming.”