Farmland and grassland

The Farmland and Grassland Habitat Group is responsible for initiating and coordinating actions to achieve targets relating to the Arable field margins, Grazing marsh, Hedgerows and hedgerow trees, Lowland calcareous grassland and Lowland meadows Habitat Action Plans.

The purpose of the Farmland and Grassland Habitat Group is to provide a forum for those with particular interest/expertise in this suite of Habitat and Species Action Plans (HAPs and SAPs) in the Lincolnshire BAP. Membership is open to any interested organisation on the condition that they sign up to the terms of reference.

Greater Lincolnshire is one of the UK’s most important agricultural areas and farming has been the dominant land use here for many centuries. DEFRA’s 2009 survey estimated that 81% of Lincolnshire County is farmed, and that 71% is ploughed annually (arable, horticulture and temporary grassland) – compared to 39% for England. Consequently availability of semi-natural habitat is below the national average, and there is a need for better delivery for biodiversity and habitat connectivity within the farmed environment. Wildlife-rich and pastoral grassland is an important element of Greater Lincolnshire's biodiversity. However, this declining resource, including grazing marsh and lowland meadows is being lost to alternative farming systems, urban creep and tourism development.

Many landowners have shown that with the appropriate incentives and well-designed measures, they will accept the challenge of reversing the decline of farm biodiversity. Stewardship agreements provide the largest incentive for the farming sector to implement Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) objectives in partnership with others.

It is essential that farmers have long-term confidence in stewardship agreements and that funding is maintained as this is the primary means of achieving the targets set out in the action plan for farmland habitats and species. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently under review and so the details of future funding schemes have not yet been clarified. There is no doubt that the effectiveness of future schemes will be a critical factor affecting the delivery of farmland and grassland BAP actions.

Vision for Greater Lincolnshire's farmland and grassland:

  • An actively and sustainably farmed countryside that benefits biodiversity and the farming community. Habitat diversity has increased.
  • Land use is a mosaic of productive land, within healthy ecological networks of semi-natural and managed habitats, which can meet food supply demands without the loss of associated species.
  • The decline in important habitats has been halted and reversed and habitats are restored and created on a landscape scale, with appropriate traditional management techniques in place – especially the use of livestock.
  • Hedges, hedgerow trees, watercourses and farm ponds are managed for biodiversity, with suitable protection from farm operations. Linear habitats are encouraged and sympathetically managed as biodiversity corridors and stepping stones.
  • Buffer zones and other measures are adopted to reduce erosion and pollution of the wider environment.
    Use of pesticides and other chemical/nutrient inputs have been reduced, resulting in less diffuse pollution.
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