21 Aug 2020

Trust responds to England’s Environment Land Management Scheme

Read our response to a Government scheme with the potential to restore England’s wild places and inform policy in other UK nations

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This July the John Muir Trust responded to a consultation on the proposed Environment Land Management Scheme (ELM).

The scheme is being developed by DEFRA, the UK Government Department responsible for environmental protection, food production and rural affairs, and is intended to provide farmers, foresters and other land managers in England with a future source of funding in return for achieving positive outcomes for nature as a result of the way land is managed.

As a new scheme, the ELM will replace payments to farmers and land managers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In a notable departure from the CAP, this scheme wants to fund activity that produces or sustains environmental public goods (examples include clean air and water, biodiverse landscapes, nutrient-rich soils and carbon-storing habitats).

We engaged with this consultation because this new scheme has the potential to support the restoration of England’s wild places and could help to inform policy in other UK nations.

Some headlines from our response:

  • We asked for the scheme to support ecological restoration as part of Tier 3 funding, suggesting examples of activities for funding such as the reintroduction of keystone native species, improved connectivity between different habitats and wildlife corridors, riparian woodland planting and native woodland regeneration up to the natural tree line.
  • To encourage participation and collaboration, we asked for appropriate support for farmers, foresters and land managers to encourage participation and collaboration. Types of support we suggested included expert advice, peer support, opportunities to share experiential learning and facilitation to help neighbouring landowners work together to achieve environmental outcomes.
  • We recommended the scheme makes provision for specialist advice where needed (for example, where activities proposed are unfamiliar or new to the land manager).
  • We proposed the inclusion of public engagement and education activity within all three tiers of funding. This could be achieved by incorporating existing programmes for nature connection and engagement activities with other activities.
  • We welcomed the inclusion of access, public engagement and education activity within Tiers 2 and 3 with the caveat that care is taken by land managers, farmers and foresters to design an offer that is values as well as knowledge based and promotes connection and pro-environmental behaviour.
  • We suggested Tier 1 could also accommodate engagement and education activity by incorporating existing programmes for nature connection and engagement. The links between access to nature and human wellbeing, health and education are well researched and documented. By facilitating access to nature across all three Tiers the scheme could increase its range of benefits and reach more people.

Read our full response to the ELM scheme.