Humans have been farming in the UK for thousands of years, producing crops and raising livestock. During this time, wildlife has moved into the farmed landscape to make the most of the riches it offers, from flower-filled field margins to bushy hedgerows, reed-lined ponds to seed-filled stubbles.
Decline of traditional farming
As traditional methods of farming have declined and agricultural intensification has taken hold, there has been a rapid decline in the wildlife that is associated with our farmed environment. Hedgelaying, rotational and diverse cropping, seasonal grazing, and leaving winter stubble and field margins are just some of the farming methods that have become less common in recent years, despite having many benefits for wildlife, the environment and food production.
Creating a Living Landscape
Farmers are massively important in helping to look after our countryside and wildlife. Managed sensitively, farmland can support a huge range of species including barn owls, brown hares, cornflowers and bumblebees. And as our natural habitats become fragmented, well-managed farmland can provide a vital link between protected wildlife sites, helping wildlife to move about freely and forming a giant patchwork of natural spaces – A Living Landscape.
How we’re helping
Across the UK, The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that farmland is managed in the best way for wildlife, while still providing a living to those who work the land. Many Trusts provide guidance for farmers and landowners on wildlife-friendly measures and the environmental stewardship schemes offered by governments and assemblies around the UK.
Many Trusts also own or manage areas of farmland themselves. This not only benefits the livestock which is needed to manage other habitats, but also helps local wildlife.
A working example
The award-winning Vine House Farm in the Lincolnshire Fens works closely with The Wildlife Trusts and is a good example of a farm managed in an environmentally sensitive way. The farm grows bird seed and organic vegetables in fields bordered by weed margins, hedgerows and woodland. Ponds and dykes provide vital wildlife homes, and there are nest boxes and bird feeders throughout.