The Landworkers’ Alliance has responded to the UK government’s announcement of how the new Landscape Recovery and Local Nature Recovery schemes will work for England. The announcement can be found here.
These new schemes are part of the post-Brexit agricultural transition plan (in the Agriculture Act 2020) that sees an end to direct EU subsidies to farmers. These new details relate to two of the three new land management schemes that will replace direct payments, which aim to improve biodiversity, soil health and mitigate climate change on agricultural land.
The Landscape Recovery Scheme will provide funding for 15 pilot projects of 500ha to 5000ha in 2022, to restore ecosystems on a grand scale.
Jyoti Fernandes, the Landworkers’ Alliance Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, says:
“The danger of this approach is that many of the holdings of this size will be land owned by corporations or landed gentry, which means our public money will continue to flow to the very richest in society, while access to land will become increasingly more difficult for new entrants to farming.
The funding for landscape recovery will also be contingent on co-funding with private finance, which may be money from corporations seeking to offset their carbon emissions instead of reducing emissions to achieve net zero.
There are currently no criteria in place to evaluate the ethical suitability of private co-financing.”
Defra says it will release more details on how to apply in the coming months, and is making a social impact assessment part of the criteria for applicants.
The LWA would like to see Landscape Recovery carried out in a way that supports environmental charities and sees the creation of new publicly-owned national parks or community-owned landscapes supported by government funding to match private fundraising.
“The LWA wants landscapes accessible to underserved communities to be given priority under the Landscape Recovery scheme, as there are too many who currently lack access to green spaces.
We would like to see the creation of new jobs in nature, including land and forest management, to be funded by the scheme or with additional funds from the government.
New jobs can regenerate local communities. Initiatives like the National Nature Service and the Youth Environmental Service lay out how this might be achieved, inspired by a scheme in the U.S in the 1930s that created 300 national parks.”
The Local Nature Recovery scheme is due to open to a limited number of people in 2023 as part of a testing phase, before full rollout in 2024.
“More measures to support social goods are also needed in the Local Nature Recovery scheme, such as payments for educational farm visits, open days, and for farms that engage with the local community by running volunteer programmes.
We would also like to see more support to develop local food supply chains. This will help consumers develop a better relationship with those who produce our food in a sustainable way.”