Britain’s leading conservation organisations have called for the adoption of a food and farming policy that works better for nature and the environment in the wake of Brexit.
WWF-UK, the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB said Britain’s exit from the European Union represented “a once in a generation opportunity to help wildlife return across the countryside” and set out a joint vision for a future environment, farming and rural policy.
Among the group’s key asks are for the UK Government to replace the CAP with policies that deliver high environmental standards for land management across the UK, and for forthcoming 25 year plans for food and farming and the environment to be properly joined up.
They also called for the continuation of all existing agri-environment schemes until a replacement policy is fully operational, and the creation of an independent Policy Commission to examine a future policy for the environment, farming and rural development and encourage an inclusive and engaging public debate.
The call comes just weeks after this year’s State of Nature report found that 56% of native British wildlife species are in decline with policy-driven agricultural change cited as a key reason.
“The public deserves great food, produced in a way that benefits wildlife whilst providing farmers with a sustainable business,” said Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at the National Trust. “But government needs to give farmers the right support, rewarding them for managing land for a full range of public benefits: wildlife, food, public access, beautiful landscapes, cultural heritage, reducing the risk of flooding and holding carbon in the soil. It’s only by changing how we support farmers that the long-term future of farming will be secured.”