Birds, bees and butterflies get boost from new countryside coalition

Thursday 30th June 2016

Stephen HoneywoodStephen Honeywood of Halls Farm and Little Haugh Farm in Norton farms land next to Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Black Bourn Valley nature reserve.

This summer, 42 progressive arable farms are embarking on a new model for sustainable farming and will maintain nature-friendly corridors on farmland which, if placed end to end, would reach from Land’s End to John O’Groats - as part of a new partnership to enhance the natural environment and support farming communities.

The Wildlife Trusts and LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) are creating unique model for nature-friendly farming across 44,500 acres, as part of new Jordans Farm Partnership.

The new and unique collaboration - involving The Wildlife Trusts, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) and Jordans - will promote sustainable farming practice - and address rural development issues through The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Known as the Jordans Farm Partnership, it will create a new model for UK farm sustainability and set high standards for nature-friendly farming.

Five farms, including Halls Farm and Little Haugh Farm in Suffolk, are currently piloting the scheme and, from this summer, all 42 farms which supply grain to breakfast cereal brand Jordans, will undertake a wide variety of measures to protect water and soil, building on their longstanding commitment to support wildlife on at least 10% of their land. Together, the farms in the Partnership manage over 44,500 acres of land. Ten percent of this area will continue to be managed to provide food for farmland birds, pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and pollinating insects; sustaining landscape-scale wildlife corridors with dedicated habitats, such as ponds and hedgerow highways, for species of significance in the local area.

The Jordans Farm Partnership has been set up to address key issues facing rural communities today, including 1) the decline in priority wildlife species of almost 67% since 1970, with significant reductions in insects and farmland birds ; 2) the requirement to produce more food to feed a growing population, balanced with 3) an equally important need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural output; and 4) to provide support for rural communities, many of which are struggling from social and economic changes (800 rural shops closing a year and the average age of a UK farmer increasing to 59 in 2013 ).

All the farms in the Partnership are in the process of becoming LEAF Marque certified, which advocates optimisation of inputs; energy and waste management, and practices on farms to protect and enhance biodiversity, soil and water. Underpinning LEAF Marque certification are the nine principles of Integrated Farm Management, recognised as best practice for environmental farm management. Jordans will also fund field trials and share best practice agronomy with its farmers, while providing incentives for yield and productivity improvement.

Once all 42 farms have achieved LEAF Marque certification, they will be supported to meet a new bespoke farm wildlife standard developed by The Wildlife Trusts, across at least 10% of their land; half of which will be managed specifically for pollinators and wild birds through the Countryside Stewardship Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package to provide year round habitat for wildlife (food, nest sites and shelter.) Farmers will receive support at all stages, including visits from their local Wildlife Trust Farm Advisor to help them develop and implement their farm environment plan. They will receive financial support from Jordans, and help from their local Wildlife Trust Farm Advisor to assist with securing Government funding as part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

Through the Partnership, Jordans will also develop its longstanding relationship with The Prince’s Countryside Fund, a charity which seeks to secure a brighter future for the British countryside and the people that live and work in our rural communities. Founded in 2010 by HRH The Prince of Wales The Prince’s Countryside Fund has invested over £6.7m supporting over 210,000 people in rural areas across the UK, including support for many young people who want to enter farming as a career by creating access to training and apprenticeship opportunities. Jordans contributes to The Prince’s Countryside Fund and will continue to work through them to address rural development issues as part of the Partnership.

The Jordans Farm Partnership will encourage all its UK farm suppliers to actively engage with their local communities through, for example farm visits. By providing opportunities for people to gain a deeper understanding of farming, wildlife and rural communities, it is hoped they will value and support it in the future.

Paul Murphy, Chief Executive of The Jordans & Ryvita Company: “The Jordans Farm Partnership builds on Jordans’ 30 year commitment to wildlife. We are delighted to have the support of our 42 farm suppliers who have already done a great deal to support wildlife on their land. Our new model will ensure 44,500 acres of British countryside, equivalent to a city the size of Bristol or Nottingham, is managed to high environmental standards. At the same time we will continue to work with The Prince’s Countryside Fund to provide support for rural development. We believe this collaborative and flexible approach is the best way to address the range of issues that impact upon the British Countryside. It also establishes a practical and scalable model for other organisations that are genuinely interested in rural sustainability and biodiversity to emulate.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts: “Farmers are the custodians of 75% of our countryside[i] and The Wildlife Trusts have a long history of working with farmers to help find ways to maximise the wildlife habitats on their land. We have also worked with Jordans for many years and recognise the company’s commitment to the environment. So we are delighted to be working with the Jordans Farm Partnership and their farmers. New areas of wild flowers, hedges and nest boxes make a big difference to pollinating insects, wild birds and small mammals as they navigate their way through our landscape. In this way the partnership will not only help wildlife to adapt to the pressures of a changing climate, but it will help bring wildlife back into people’s lives.”

Caroline Drummond MBE, Chief Executive of LEAF: “This is a very exciting partnership and one that LEAF is proud to be part of. Jordans’ farm suppliers already have an excellent track record of farming for wildlife and this new partnership will deliver even more. By requiring all its farm suppliers to become LEAF Marque certified, Jordans are making a firm commitment to the delivery of sustainable farming across the whole farm, including soil and water management, energy and waste management, pollution control, crop health and protection as well community engagement. We are greatly looking forward to working together as part of this unique collaboration towards a food and farming system that encourages nature and landscapes to thrive; supports livelihoods and local communities and has public health and wellbeing at its heart. ”

Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund: “The Prince’s Countryside Fund was established to secure a sustainable future for the countryside. Farming and how we manage the land is a major part of this. Through our grant programme we provide an essential lifeline to people living and working in the countryside. We are delighted to be working with The Jordans Farm Partnership to raise awareness of the challenges facing farming and the opportunities for our rural areas.” 

Tagged with: Jordans, Wildlife and farming