As Welsh farmers gather at the Royal Welsh Show, a leading conservation charity is uniting farmers to deliver a better future. GWCT Wales will launch its Working Conservationists Farming Community at the Llanelweddshowground on Tuesday 19th July. All are invited to the launch, which will take place on the FUW stand at 2 pm.
Sue Evans director of GWCT Wales, who is launching the initiative, said, “Farmers ask us how they can bring back the birds and other wildlife that their grandfathers saw on the farm in abundance, but has since disappeared. Some have been involved with agri-environment schemes, but still not managed to increase biodiversity, others have no experience in conservation, but are keen to start on the journey. We have established the GWCT Wales Farming Community to help them all on that journey. It is free to join and open to any farmer interested in doing more for nature within their current farming system.”
By joining the network, farmers give their support to the GWCT Wales Farming Community Charter, which recognises that they want to be part of the solution to mitigate climate change and help threatened species such as curlew, skylark, lapwing, and yellowhammer within a productive, sustainable farming business.
Sue said, “GWCT Cymru is not in the business of telling farmers how they should farm, they know their land and how to produce food, but we can help them increase biodiversity on their farms through our three-legged stool approach. This consists of creating the right habitat, providing overwinter feed and protection from predators,particularly in the breeding season. Farmers are the best people to deliver recovery of species because they take the same approach with their livestock, understanding the need to feed, protect and provide the right environment for animals to survive.”
For decades GWCT has been creating practical conservation measures and providing advice for farmers based on scientific research. It is currently developing a hedgerow carbon code, which will help demonstrate how much farmsare already delivering in terms of carbon sequestration. It also created the Farmer Cluster principle which sees neighbouring farmers pooling resources and sharing knowledge to achieve conservation on a landscape scale. GWCT Wales Farming Community will offer support and advice through live and online events and information sharing. Itwill help Welsh farmers tailor environmental measures to specific sites and farming systems to deliver outcome-based conservation.
In addition, many of the founding members of the GWCT Wales Farming Community will open their farms up as demonstration sites to show fellow farmers and policymakers how to achieve conservation alongside profitable farming. One such young farmer is Peter Loxdale pioneering intensive rotational grazing within an intensive organic beef and sheep system. His approach encapsulates the aims of the Farming Community network, He said, “Where we want to take this
farm in the future is driven by improving soil and environment because by doing that we also improve the farm’s self-sufficiency and profitability, which is increasingly important with a reduction in subsidies and schemes and global factors beyond our control.”