A new report commissioned by Natural England reveals the important role that Environmental Stewardship (ES) schemes play in supporting agricultural productivity.
The new report, Ecosystem services from Environmental Stewardship that benefit agricultural production, highlights the role of Environmental Stewardship in protecting the environment and agricultural food production. The report found that ES schemes are delivering a range of vital goods and services, known as eco-systems services - which benefit the natural environment and in doing so help sustain and develop agricultural productivity.
Shows how ES schemes can help protect soil and water, regulate pest species and improve pollination, which in turn helps support crop production;
Reinforces the key role farmers and land managers in ES play in enhancing the natural environment without compromising their ability to produce food;
For the first time, maps the distribution of the major ecosystems services provided by ES options.
The research, carried out by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), found many examples of how ecosystems services supported by ES contribute to food production, such as:
Pollination services are provided by many ES options, with those delivering early pollen and nectar sources and season-long floral resources particularly important. Farms under organic management are likely to deliver more for bumblebees due to the legume content of rotational grassland;
Control of pest species by natural enemies is encouraged by ES options supporting hedgerows, flower margins, species-rich grassland and beetle banks;
Conservation of genetic resources is supported by options such as traditional orchard and species-rich grassland management, as well as native breed supplements;
Converting land to grassland benefits microscopic soil animals which improve soil organic matter content, while options where legumes are sown increase soil nitrogen, organic matter and soil wildlife.
Ian Fugler, Land Management Director for Natural England, said: “Long-term food security and a healthy natural environment are inextricably linked. This report highlights how Environmental Stewardship supports the important role farmers play both in putting food on the table and providing a whole range of vital goods and services – protecting wildlife, managing water, storing carbon, looking after woodlands and hedgerows, and planting new ones, and shaping much-loved landscapes for people to explore and enjoy”.
The report Ecosystem services from Environmental Stewardship that benefit agricultural production can be downloaded from the Natural England website.
About Natural England
Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.
We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.
We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.
About The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera)
Fera is an Executive Agency of the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Its remit is to provide robust evidence, rigorous analysis and expert professional advice to government, international organisations and the private sector, in order to support and develop a sustainable and secure food chain, a healthy natural environment, and to protect the global community from biological and chemical risks.
For further information (media enquiries only) contact:
David Hirst, Natural England, on 0300 0601720 or email@example.com
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