On Thursday evening I took part in an event in Ely where the RSPB laid out our Fens Futurescapes plans to a room full of farmers and others.  It was also by way of a big 'thank you' to farmers with whom we have been working in the Fens for years on farmland bird recovery projects.

It was nice to see the event and the project covered very positively in Farmers' Guardian and Farmers' Weekly

Several farmers on the night came and thanked me for the help of local RSPB staff in filling in forms (at no charge) which led to HLS agreements coming their way and for the RSPB's campaign over the summer to protect agri-environment funding from potential government cuts.  It was very easy to 'love these farmers to bits' - because they are 'stepping up for nature'.

This was the type of event that cheers me up.  I had a stinking cold, had been late to bed the night before, early up that morning and had an almost 2 hour drive home from Ely in front of me - but as I left I was buoyed up by the warmth of the farmers in the audience and the obviously good working relationships that we have with them. 

The Fens are special - big skies and open landscapes.  Together we can fill the air with the sound of buzzing bumblebees and singing skylarks - we can turn up the volume on the Fenland Futurescape.



  • A further comment : If peat use in horticulture has a carbon cost to the UK of £32 million,( a figure conjured up from I do not know where) then how many £millions or £billions is it costing in carbon costs to the UK for farming the peatlands in the fens?

    I would prefer to see some action on the following


    which i believe to be a much more important climate and environmental issue throughout the tropics.

  • Mark in the blog of December 3rd you ONLY say " How much carbon has been lost from these soils over the last centuries I wonder?" There is no mention of the CURRENT level of peatland destruction in the fens by farming and CURRENT amounts of carbon being put into the atmosphere from this source. I did not see the RSPB petitioning parliament to stop the destruction of this peatland habitat by farmers in the manner that was was carried out against the horticultural industry. My comment about double standards remains.

  • Sooty - fair enough.  At the risk of opening up a further debate, or being accused of being anti-farmer, the let me please comment as follows.

    It's a good point that maybe we shouldn't expect farmers to be much more interested in nature than the general public.  Actually, and please note that this is a pro-farmer remark, I would expect the proportion to be a bit higher than average.  But, in England, 70% of farmers get wildlife-friendly farming grants.  It certainly isn't their fault that the grants encourage those farmers to do a range of things - some of which won't deliver much for farmland wildlife.  Not those farmers' fault at all.  It's the fault of successive governments - and this one ought to sort it out please.  However, the major block to sorting it out is not lack of knowledge it is lack of enthusiasm from those who claim to represent farmers.  We would have much better wildlife-friendly farming schemes if it were not for the lobbying of the NFU in particular. For example, we would be able to ahve an effective ELS scheme in England.  Farmers would then have to choose whether they enteres the new scheme - they are voluntary schemes after all - but the taxpayer could be reassured that those grants to farmers were delivering a real benefit.  And if farmers didn't want to enter the schemes then that would, as now, be their choice.

  • Think I will just go along with the fact you are telling me in effect that you have no criticism of farmers.Myself and lots of farmers will be celebrating that fact.We sincerely thank you and pleased that a clear state of affairs exists.

    My thoughts are that obviously some farmers are great for wildlife,some coming on board and some probably never will but if they don't then they cannot get wildlife money grants because they do not comply with the rules.

    One really annoying thing is that it seems that general public or some of them expect all farmers to be wildlife friendly and while I personally wish that would happen it is not fair to expect a larger % of farmers to be interested in wildlife than the % of general public interested in wildlife which in my estimation is probably less than 5%or 3 million even then think that a generous figure but of course I have not seen any official figures but certainly think that figure generous if we said numbers taking part in improving wildlife.

    Although it may seem I defend farmers often see farmers doing things I am not happy about but conversely some do things to restore my pride in them concerning wildlife and it seems across the board as even organic farmers seem to do it simply for financial reasons and often do things deemed not wildlife friendly,think we need to get away from connecting organic with wildlife friendly and it is obviously more down to personal love of wildlife,we hopefully learn all the time and that lesson driven home to myself and O H today.  

  • mirlo - if you look at the blog of the 3 December it was mentioned there.  And actually, it did come up in conversation on Thursday evening.  So please don't be so quick to criticise.

    Sooty - a challenge.  Please give me a list of things I've written on this blog which would be seen as criticism of farmers.