Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Wildlife friendly farmers

(Picture shows Brian & Patrick Barker with TV's Jimmy Doherty after receiving their FWAG Silver Lapwing award)

It was heart warming to hear my young friend Patrick Barker this morning on Farming Today.  He was explaining how the devotion of him and his family to farming alongside good habitats and valuable wildlife still achieved a profitable farm, but with all the biodiversity of the Suffolk countryside.  The key to this was the Higher Level Stewardship  scheme of DEFRA which gives support to activities to encourage wildlife on the farm.

Patrick has taken this a step further.  Together with his cousin Brian they have not only created and enhanced the wildlife habitats on the family farm but also monitored the progress.  Brian with his trusty camera and Patrick using his binoculars and getting involved with bird ringing.  Some birds considered really threatened in the farmed landscape have been helped back to sustainability such as the Yellowhammer.  The wild bird cover provided keeps the birds fed and sheltered particularly through the winter period when recruitment of young birds to the population is vital.

The population of Brown Hares on the property is also very impressive.

If we are to encourage farmers to look after our wildlife we need schemes like HLS and we need these to bring in much more land than at present.  What better way to encourage more farmers on board than to have one of their own in Patrick to recruit more to carry out the outstanding work of him and his family.

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