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Room for wildlife needs farmers – CLA

[Monday 27 September 2010]

A major Government report on the future of England’s wildlife reserves suggests they tend to be too small and too isolated – but drew a quick response from landowners who said that the contribution of farmers towards environmental protection had barely been recognised.

In a report drawn up for the environment department Defra called “Making space for Nature,” Professor Sir John Lawton said urgent attention was needed if our wildlife reserves were to prosper in the face of climate change and new demands for land.

One of the key suggestions was that wildlife corridors should be set up to link various areas of nature conservation, to allow birds, mammals and insects to move freely around the countryside.

Welcoming the report, which will be the basis of a Coalition White Paper to be published next year, Defra secretary Caroline Spelman said biodiversity could not be protected by government alone – it needed the work of the so-called “Big Society” a key theme of the new administration.

She added:”Everyone from farmers, wildlife groups, landowners and individuals can play a role in helping to create, manage and improve these areas, so if ever there was a time for the Big Society to protect our natural environment, this is it.”

The report however received a received a cool reception from Mr. Douglas Chalmers, Northern Director of the Country Lands and Business Association (CLA) who said it was “nothing new.”

He pointed out that farmers had always carried our conservation work at their own cost with little reward and added: ““Landowners and farmers are the people who can deliver this biodiversity, but only, as the report acknowledges, ‘provided the incentives and policies are appropriate’

A full copy of the professor’s report can be downloaded at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/biodiversity/index.htm

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