Exmoor Nature Friendly Farming Project Funding Extended
Exmoor National Park is delighted to announce that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA is extending its funding for the ‘Farming in Protected Landscapes programme’ (FiPL).
The FiPL scheme forms part of the government’s ‘Environmental Improvement Plan, with additional funding for Exmoor related projects granted until March 2025.
Exmoor has a proud and unique farming heritage where many farmers are passionate about wildlife and sustainability. £1.2 million has so far been allocated to Exmoor National Park, funding one-off projects connected to nature recovery, tackling the impacts of climate change, cultural heritage and more.
It supports farmers and land managers in their valuable contribution to our protected landscapes and to ensure environmental improvements go hand in hand with agriculture.
A special panel chaired by Exmoor National Park Chair and farmer Robin Milton was set up by Exmoor National Park Authority (NPA) to oversee the funds locally, working with the Exmoor Hill Farming Network and Natural England to provide expert advice and ensuring the money is spent where it matters most.
Here are just a few examples of what’s happening throughout Exmoor thanks to FIPL funding:
Over five kilometres of wildlife rich hedgerows, 540 hectares of regenerative farming and research into improved management across 700 hectares of moorland are among a raft of projects in Exmoor, which have been awarded funding through the government’s Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.
Tree planting and Orchard restoration
New trees within fields and on field boundaries create more habitat and link wooded areas for woodland wildlife. They are also needed to help deal with the impact of Ash Dieback disease. This includes the potential for reestablishment of orchards and historic landscape features.
Moorland grazing management
Innovative 'No Fence' radio collars have been fitted to cattle grazing on Molland moor (Photo). The collars are designed to encourage grazing in a way that breaks up Molinia grass (aka Purple Moor Grass) and improves the conditions for young heather and other wild plant species to regrow. It’s a virtual fencing technology that works with an app to train the animals to respond to an audio signal as they move towards a boundary zone.
Species rich grasslands support a wide range of wildlife, including pollinators, they enhance the landscape, encourage water retention in the soil and help conserve any archaeological features present. This can include enhancing habitat corridors through the landscape and restoring meadows back to flower-rich condition.
Conservation Manager Alex Farris said: This extension allows us to deliver more projects through FiPL and enables us to ensure the best concepts of FiPL are integrated within future environmental land management schemes within Protected Landscapes.
Sarah Bryan CEO of Exmoor National Park said:
“This is excellent news; we are really grateful for all the joint hard work between farmers and our team that has gone into building such a well-regarded programme. This extension reflects the quality of the projects being delivered on the ground.
Cerys Dehaini has a small farm between Roadwater and Nettlecombe, she says:
“We have been implementing the transition from conventional grains to a number of agroforestry systems with a view to creating a diverse, resilient and productive food system that also sequesters carbon, builds soil and increases biodiversity. The FiPL funding has enabled us to progress significantly faster with the implementation of our plans, transforming the landscape through the planting of trees and installing key infrastructure which has provided a wonderful boost towards the creation of a regenerative system."
Kenneth and Faye Allan, farming at Langridge Mills, say the FiPL programme has helped them, both in funding and advice: “It’s enabled us to replant and protect a historic apple orchard and to re-wild a small parcel of land that was previously used for pig rearing, all aimed at improving the visual impact and biodiversity on a busy tourist route in ENP.
Without the funding we would not have been able to attempt these projects and the advice given has ensured that we get the best benefits out of the work. We are pleased that the scheme has been extended and hope to work with the advisors to see what other activities can be carried out, to build on the works that are in our current plan.”
Defra say: “Demand remains high in the Protected Landscapes for project delivery,
With an extension and a transition towards environmental land management schemes we know we will need to demonstrate how FiPL contributes towards Defra’s departmental commitments and targets”.
We are really pleased with the news - It’s a real credit to what has been achieved so far and it is a step in the right direction for the role that Protected Landscapes can play in future environmental land management schemes.
Published: 2 February 2023
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