£2.5m (€2.71m) has been made available under the UK’s Countryside Fellowship Facilitation Fund, aimed at promoting co-operative sustainable agriculture.
The funding is now open to bids from consortia of farmers and landowners planning large scale environmental improvements: suggested improvements include enhancing wildlife habitats and ecosystems, tree planting programmes and building natural flood prevention solutions. Successful applicants for the Countryside Fellowship Facilitation Fund must show how they will work co-operatively and pool their knowledge in order to conserve their local environment; in addition to committing to provide support and training to future applicants for Countryside Stewardship, a programme whereby land managers including farmers and foresters work to improve and protect local natural landscapes.
UK Farming Minister George Eustice said: “We know that more can be achieved by trying to coordinate a landscape scale approach to creating habitats and supporting wildlife. This fund helps support local clusters of farmers to come together to promote similar interventions and options so that the management on each farm helps to complement a wider effort and we can achieve critical mass as we strive to support wildlife in our countryside.”
The Countryside Fellowship Facilitation Fund, administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is now on its fourth round of funding allocation. Since 2015 the fund has distributed £7.8m (€8.46m) across 98 facilitation delivering co-ordinated conservation efforts and providing support to their affiliated Countryside Stewards.
Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the RPA, said: “Today’s announcement means that more farmers will have the opportunity to benefit from this funding and deliver long term improvements for the environment, working with other local farmers. With this funding, facilitators will be able to amplify the benefits brought by the Countryside Stewardship schemes, as well as reaping the rewards for farmers, land managers and our rural communities.”
This round of the Countryside Fellowship Facilitation Fund will remain open to bids until 4 October.