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Adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate Jim Smyllie Executive Director, Regional Delivery.

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Presentation on theme: "Adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate Jim Smyllie Executive Director, Regional Delivery."— Presentation transcript:

1 Adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate Jim Smyllie Executive Director, Regional Delivery

2 A ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in coming decades Climate change Population growth Growing pressure on food, energy and water supplies Farmers, foresters, land managers will be directly affected And have a central role to play

3 Consequences of climate change for farming Consequences of: –warmer conditions –longer growing seasons... – drought... –extreme hot weather... –storms and heavy rainfall... will bring both threats and opportunities Effects will vary from area to area and from year to year. Photo courtesy of Farming Futures

4 This has significant implications for food production AND for all the other benefits that agricultural land provides to society

5 The Cotswolds clearly demonstrates the wider benefits of farmland Biodiversity: limestone grasslands, ancient woodlands, farmland birds, wildflowers, rare species

6 Recreation, public health and tourism Over 3,000 miles of public footpaths; 38 million day visitors each year Major tourist industry

7 Local communities and livelihoods (built up over centuries of human habitation) Sheepscombe Village

8 Environmental ‘regulating services’ e.g. water cycling and purification; carbon storage

9 Landscape change The Cotswolds landscape has changed in the past: –Natural processes –Quarrying and building of towns –Grazing, cropping, forestry And will continue to change as the climate changes: –Ecosystems –Farming systems and location of production –Overall landscape changes

10 Climate change is already having an effect Adonis Blue butterfly is back in the Cotswolds after 40 years of absence Milder winters and hot summer weather probably a significant factor

11 Managing change Need to accept and manage future change, but not all changes need be bad Opportunities as well as threats Accept that change will happen, but to try to maintain the benefits the area provides

12 We need an integrated approach Healthy natural environment Local communities & livelihoods Agricultural production Wider social benefits

13 Farmers as providers of vital ‘green infrastructure’ Farmers have an important role to help society adapt. E.g.: –Management of surface water: sustainable drainage systems, ponds, wetlands, water meadows, river flood plains –Planting and maintaining trees Effective, sustainable and cost effective Increasingly important as climate change continues

14 Adaptation action Joint project between Defra, NE, EA and FC has identified wide range of actions farmers are likely to need to carry out –Planning and risk assessment –Changing and diversifying crops –Land management (e.g. trees and sustainable drainage) –Technology and infrastructure –Management of crops, livestock, chemical inputs and water

15 Many actions have multiple benefits for agricultural production, natural ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gases Many of these correspond to current good practice Photo courtesy of Farming Futures

16 ‘Adaptive management’ approach No single solution and no ‘one size fits all’ response. Adaptation must address local issues and aspirations Placed-based visions important (‘What are we adapting for?’)

17 The role of agri-environment schemes Provide an important income stream to encourage provision of a wider range of benefits from agricultural land Across England we now have over 58 000 agreements, bringing almost 67% of agricultural land under some form of environmental management

18 Agri-environment schemes and mitigation Increase carbon storage in soils and vegetation Reduce inputs of fuel, fertiliser and pesticides ES sequesters ~ 1.6m tonnes C yr -1 in soils across the country (equivalent to approx. 5% of all emissions from English agriculture) E.g.: Restoration of peatlands unfertilised buffer strips Before After

19 Agri-environment schemes and adaptation Restore and create habitats Buffer habitats Protect soils and water Can help provide the sorts of ‘green infrastructure’ discussed earlier Through HLS alone we have spent around £90m in the last three years on measures that contribute to mitigation or adaptation or both WTBCNP

20 Agri-environment schemes in the Cotswolds Agri-environment agreements cover the majority of the Cotswold Hills Priority target area for HLS More than 700 Environmental Stewardship agreements Covering an area of over 73,000ha Value of over £42m Plus several hundred existing ESA and CSS agreements

21 Farmland birds (and much more) The Cotswolds has nationally important populations of farmland birds One of four projects in the wider South West Farmland Bird initiative, Targeted advice to ask farmers to deliver package of important habitat options Working with CCB

22 Huge response from Cotswolds farming community: 65 out of 69 farms that we approached have signed up 26 agreements now live or have been offered Great results already both for birds and for wider environmental objectives SW farmland bird approach has now been adopted nationwide

23 Advice on soil and water management Good soil and water management will be a foundation of sustainable adaptation Natural England’s SW region has recently launched the Soils 4 Profit scheme Joint project between RDA, EA and NE £3.4 m of funding up to 2013 Provides advice to landowners on nutrient use

24 Landscape connectivity Protected landscapes need to be connected and work properly from both an ecological and cultural perspective Working with CCB to connect fragmented Cotswolds habitats through Environmental Stewardship Focusing on limestone grasslands in the west Cotswolds

25 Making our schemes even better Climate training for NE land management advisers ELS advice messages on adaptation and mitigation to be incorporated into our farm advice programmes Looking at reviewing some ES options Improving HLS targeting (following our climate vulnerability studies across a range of English landscapes) Working with Defra on the development of the Low Carbon Advisory Service

26 Conclusion Protecting landscapes can bring both –environmental and social benefits –more resilient, adaptable, and profitable farms Requires an integrated approach and recognition of full range of services from agricultural land Important role for AONBs Need to work together to prepare for future changes


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