Biodiversity schemes boosts economy of local communities

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 30 Mar 2010 20:15
Farming schemes have ripple effect on local communities

Farmers who make the commitment to land management schemes aimed at protecting biodiversity and the natural environment also provide additional income, employment and other social benefits for their local communities, a report commissioned by Defra shows.

The report on the ‘Incidental socio-economic benefits of Environmental Stewardship’ reinforces how the government funding can lead to increases in local income and employment, as well as the development of farmers’ social networks and farm business skills.

Wildlife Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said: “Our farmers do a vital job looking after the countryside, protecting wildlife and habitats, as well as restoring and maintaining iconic features such as dry stone walls.

“Their work and involvement in these schemes also lead to important positive ripple effects on their local communities, through increases in employment, local investment and social networks.”

Key findings from the report include:

* Current Environmental Stewardship (ES) scheme expenditure has supported around 665 new full-time equivalent jobs in local communities between 2005 and 2009;

* Last year, £249 million was invested in ES and as a result, an additional £64.7 million was generated by the local economy;

* A large proportion of the scheme work - such as ensuring wildlife, landscape and historical features are created, restored and maintained - is undertaken directly as a result of ES scheme payments; and

* Farmers, contractors and advisers reported improving their skills and knowledge through participating in schemes, and through attending associated training.

Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England, said: “This report confirms the value that is delivered by Environmental Stewardship. Not only is it securing tangible benefits to farm businesses and the environment but it is also strengthening rural communities and sustaining local jobs.

“Two thirds of England’s farmers are already in ES or its equivalent and this report provides compelling evidence of the benefits that all farmers can receive by coming on board.”

The report was completed by the Countryside and Community Research Institute and jointly managed by Defra and Natural England.

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