Living on a Cumbrian farm I see first hand how agriculture and countryside can live side by side, complimenting each other but it takes hard work and money to keep our countryside in such good condition.
In Cumbria, a large rural area, we have miles of dry stone walling, with men still skilled in dry stone walling techniques and we take great care of our hedgerows and woods in order for wildlife to thrive.
This is not only in the Lake District National park but outside it too. On our farm a marsh area was set aside for an agri-environment scheme and we now see schools visiting the area to observe wildlife, we use traditional dry stone walling (although wish we could teach the livestock to treat it gently) and our hedgerows are cared for regularly.
Cumbrian farmers have been “green farming” for 21 years, with schemes over that period responsible for the vision of beauty that is Cumbria.
Cumbrian farmers have been praised by Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment.
He said “Over the last 21 years, farmers in Cumbria have been managing the land to enhance the beauty of the English landscape and conserve and protect our much-loved native wildlife. The English countryside doesn’t look the way it does by accident, and all of us benefit from the footpaths, bridleways, orchard planting and hedgerow restoring which farmers carry out on our behalf through agri-environment schemes. Farmers deserve recognition and our thanks for what they have achieved. Over the next five years, the Government will invest almost £3 billion in these schemes. We are absolutely committed to seeing this great work continue.”
The next time you take a drive in the rural countryside have a good look at the area, who pays for the miles of dry stone walling to be maintained? It would be easier and cheaper to just replace it with stock fencing. What about the wood you are walking in, who owns the land and who does the maintenance work? These things don’t happen by accident, rural farmers and craftsmen carry out the work and need the financial support of government to keep our countryside looking this good.
However it is really good to hear that the efforts are being recognised and the schemes will continue to be supported.