The key findings confirm a huge level of interest in biodiversity in the Brecks and a desire to improve the natural environment. The first Test and Trial saw the development of a network of cultivated margins across the Brecks, a haven for vast numbers of rare and scarce species. Financial incentives, such as a collaboration bonus to complete this network are highly supported, along with a landscape management plan for the Brecks. This could also identify areas for wider DEFRA initiatives such as Net Gain and Nature for Climate. The prospect of improving the Brecks is seen as an incentive to work together with other farmers.
Present uncertainty in agriculture
There is a high level of concern about the financial uncertainty facing agriculture, a need to both find out about the new Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) and shape their development.
Long term agreements
Despite perceived barriers and resistance to long term agreements, a very high proportion believe that longevity allows improvements in habitats and biodiversity to be seen.
Monitoring and outcomes of agreements
Monitoring is seen as important, and a large majority feel that inspections in future schemes should be based on guidance to improve, and payments made if the advised management has been carried out.
Demography and land
Results show that half of the land managed is in arable and vegetable production, with a mixture of farm types alongside. Most are farms are larger than 500ha and with irrigation, managed by men aged 45-54 years and farmed by the landowner.
Land designations and agri-environment schemes
A large proportion have statutory land designations on their farm, mainly Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area, County Wildlife Site and Special Area of Conservation. The most frequent Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats are arable field margins, hedgerows, river and streams, lowland deciduous mixed woodland, and ponds. Everyone had previously participated in agri-environment schemes with 87% currently in the Countryside Stewardship, Higher-Level Schemes or Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot.