Trialling how potential new farming policy can help nature

Gatekeeper butterfly on a leaf

In Malham and Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales we’re working with our tenants and the National Park Authority on a trial that buys environmental outcomes from farmers.

In Malham and Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales we’re working with our tenants and the National Park Authority on a trial that buys environmental outcomes.

With more than half of our country’s best-loved plants and animals in decline, we want to play our part in bringing nature back, starting with the land in our care.  In March 2017 we announced our plans for how we’d start to do that by 2025.

One of those aims is for at least 50 per cent of our farmland to be 'nature-friendly', with hedgerows, field margins, ponds, woodland, grasslands and other habitats managed so that our wildlife can thrive.

Many of our 1,500 farm tenants are already farming in a way which benefits wildlife.  We want to build on that enthusiasm and work in partnership with our farm tenants to grow our collective expertise, skills and confidence to achieve even better outcomes for nature. 

We are working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park to develop a new approach that will involve making payments to our farm tenants based on the environmental outcomes they deliver. The idea is that our ecologist and rangers will share their knowledge of different aspects of nature such as wildflowers, pollinators and soils. Our tenant farmers will use this knowledge and their understanding of their own land to try looking after the land differently - delivering more for nature and quality farm products.

The work is at an early stage and we will share more information as the trial progresses. If it is successful, we hope it could point the way forward for government supported environmental schemes.