Cornwall Wildlife Trust welcomes the launch of a consultation on government proposals which include money being redirected from direct farm payments based on the amount of land farmed to a new system of paying farmers ‘public money for public goods’.

Farmers' work to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production aligns closely with the Trust’s own ambitions, namely protecting and enhancing wildlife on land and at sea and re-connecting people with nature.

Cornwall is 80% farmland, so this must be managed in a way which provides shelter, food and nesting sites for wildlife. Cornwall Wildlife Trust is working with several hundred farmers across seven project areas, to support business decisions which boost food production as well as protecting wildlife.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s work with farmers often focuses on cleaner rivers for drinking water and bathing waters, using public money for public goods. In partnership with South West Water, the Upstream Thinking initiative supports and advises farmers on practical ways they can reduce soil and nutrients getting into rivers which in turn helps to safeguard Cornwall’s drinking water reservoirs.

As well as protecting the rivers – healthy and active soils also support a wider ecosystem. In particular, worms and insects in the soil are critical for the survival of farmland birds.

The lapwing feeds exclusively on worms and insects and has sadly declined by 58% since 1970 in the UK.

Farming practices can however, help protect species and habitats and this is where Cornwall Wildlife Trust works with farmers to offer advice and funding.

For example, a farmer near Helston has boosted wildlife in his silage fields by sowing thirteen different species of grasses, wildflowers and herbs. The flowering plants attract pollinators like hoverflies, which in turn support farmland birds and bats. This change also benefits the farm as the new species have deeper roots, which anchor the soil in place and stop it from washing into the stream.

Additionally, some of the plants have medicinal properties for livestock, like birds-foot-trefoil which helps fight parasites.

Pete Warman, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Project Manager for Upstream Thinking said: “In our experience, farmers understand the need to manage the land sustainably to protect natural resources for future generations. Our support is well received because we focus on solutions which protect the environment and make good business sense for farms.”