Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), which helps England’s farmers take special environmental measures to protect threatened farmland wildlife, has been saved from the cuts being made by government. HLS has been prioritised and extra European funding has been found to fill the gap (it’s match-funded) and expand!
The easier Entry-Level Stewardship (ELS) is a godsend to any farmer hoping to make wildlife-friendly farming pay returns. HLS is more specialist, and needs a dedicated farmer to achieve the extras – but the more endangered wildlife really needs this higher level of effort. It gets results. Wildlife charities depend on it too – so they can afford to fence, graze and mow their nature reserves.
Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We are delighted that the environmental stewardship schemes will remain open to all farmers in England and the proportion of the programme spent through the Higher Level Scheme (HLS) is to be increased by 80 percent over the next four years.
“We must find ways to support the recovery of the natural environment in the long term, which are cost effective, sustainable and which recognise its true value. Investing in the recovery of the natural environment and the natural services it provides is a sound investment for the future.”
RSPB director of conservation Mark Avery said: “Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has done a good job in defending wildlife friendly farming against the worst of the cuts.