Climate change is rarely out of the news these days, and tree planting is one of the solutions put forward to take carbon out of the atmosphere. It can certainly work in the short term; a good conifer plantation grows at over 20 cubic metres per hectare per annum, which is awful lot of carbon. Native species such as oak are slower growing, usually less than 10 cubic metres per hectare per annum.
I have been asked to write a blog about the new farm support grant, the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). This is due to replace the current Basic Farm Payment Scheme, aims to incentivise farmers to achieve environmental enhancement and protection and restore and improve natural capital and rural heritage.
Trial for ELMS schemes have just started and will run until 2022. Pilots will then run until 2024 with the scheme currently planned to roll out from 2025. Given the current political uncertainty, and the lack of information being put forward by Defra, there is not a lot one can definitely say on the subject. Six years seems a very long lead in period for a scheme which was first muted back in 2015. I think however that it is well worth considering some of the consequences that this long gestation might have.
Over the past few years we have seen a number of milestone reports leading to shifts in Government policy which aim to halt the decline of biodiversity across the UK. The first inkling of change was the Lawton report “Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network” published by Defra in 2010 which identified that the existing system of protected sites and reserves was inadequate and insufficient to halt the rapid decline in UK wildlife. Some of the recommendations of this report passed into policy In 2011 within the Government White Paper “The Natural Choice – securing the value of nature”. Last year saw the publication of the 25-year Environment Plan which makes it clear that all future industrial, residential and infrastructure development is dependent on improving conditions for wildlife. Continue reading