A new report published by project partners Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, shows the “Payment by Results” pilot is boosting local wildlife and motivating farmers to develop nature-friendly practices.
The pilot was rolled out at the start of 2016 across two areas in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire and in Norfolk and Suffolk in the east of England with clear environmental objectives to match the needs of each area. A total of 34 farmers took part who were given training and advice prior to selecting management options for their farm.
Results outlined in the report show the farmers have recorded a 43% increased score for number and diversity of seed bearing plants than nearby sites under conventional funding schemes, which provides a food source for farmland birds during the winter months. The trial areas for species-rich meadows also recorded an increase in numbers of pignut and eyebright, benefitting bumblebees, butterflies and birds.
Participating farmers have also reported they felt more motivated to manage their land in a way that enhances the environment.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
I am greatly encouraged by how well the results-based approach has worked under this pilot. It sends a clear message we should be giving farmers and land managers greater flexibility and autonomy to deliver the best results for the environment that go hand in hand with their farming business.