CLA Conference 2019
At the CLA’s annual conference we heard from a range of interesting speakers, on topics as varied as care farming, consumer behaviour, organic dairy production and carbon capture. We heard first from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, who initially helped farmers set up a Nature Improvement Area in the Marlborough Downs to explore whether conservation is possible on a ‘landscape scale’. Following their success, there are now 49 ‘Farmer Clusters’ across England covering 210,000 hectares – farmers work together to create conservation plans at ‘landscape scale’ using existing agri-environment schemes. Natural England have created a £7.3 million facilitation fund to enable farmer clusters to pay for a facilitator, who could be a conservation or land manager, to arrange the group and ensure that conservation efforts are delivered on time.
We then heard from The Environment Bank, which provides consultancy relating to environmental net gain. They are currently working with Defra to provide a metric tool, which measures biodiversity losses and gains that result from development projects, and are able to provide advice to developers, planning authorities and landowners on biodiversity offsetting. It is also possible for landowners to register sites with the Environment Bank, which can then be selected by developers and local authorities looking for land to meet their biodiversity compensation requirements. Conservation credits can also be purchased by developers looking to compensate for their environmental impact – currently eligible sites have been registered in rural areas around Epping, Harlow and Saffron Walden.