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New income streams for green farming

Path running through a field of corn beneath blue sky with wisp of cloud
Cornfield on Fulking Escarpment, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/Derry Robinson

We’re working on a project with think tank Green Alliance to show how new markets could help to support farming methods that reduce flooding, provide clean water and restore wildlife for the benefit of all.

Farming for the future

The Government is working on its replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy. Its proposed Environmental Land Management system would provide farmers with an income for managing land to deliver healthier soils, cleaner water, more wildlife and better access for people to the countryside.

We and our partners at Green Alliance are proposing ways that the new system can also unlock private investment in environmentally friendly farming.

How would this work?

In 2016 we first introduced our Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept which would bring new income streams into farming. We outlined what the Government could do to help accelerate the creation of viable markets that farmers and land managers could access for developing sustainable methods that restore and protect the natural environment. Since then we have produced a further four reports, testing and developing our Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept:

Two men digging a drainage ditch on the side of a hill in wet weather, with another person digging in the background
Wardens working on the blanket peat drainage on the High Peak Estate, Derbyshire | © National Trust Images/Leo Mason

What are the next steps?

We are continuing to work with Green Alliance, farmers, landowners and businesses to develop and test this concept and will share our learnings.

As part of our Riverlands programme we're also exploring what part conservation covenants may play in unlocking new long-term finance for farming.

The Eden Model project

We worked with farmers, landowners, and partners including Green Alliance, EnTrade and 3Keel on a project to test how private income streams could help deliver multiple environmental benefits to investors.

We hoped to learn and demonstrate how private and public payments for environmental outcomes can work alongside each other in two specified landscapes. Our initial policy findings and recommendations for Government can be found in these policy briefings:

  • Policy Briefing March 2020 – The Eden Model: combining public and private funding for sustainable land management (PDF)
  • Policy Briefing September 2020 – The Eden Model: lessons from two private sustainable land management schemes (PDF)

Now at the end of this project, we've learnt how local private investment and public payments for environmental outcomes could work together, demonstrating how different revenue streams can interface effectively and developing a 'toolkit' to help policymakers and practitioners make this a reality.

Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

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Our partners

Green Alliance partner

Green Alliance is an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment.

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