I met recently with the West Dorset Living Landscapes Manager of Dorset Wildlife Trust to discuss changes in the Rural Development Programme for England’s agri-environment land management scheme (now reverting to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme) in Dorset and the threat to chalk grasslands.
The trust is campaigning for a full review of existing protection for species rich grasslands because of the range of flora and fauna supported by them – but these grasslands have been depleted by around 25% since 2008. There needs to be support for farmers in maintaining non protected grassland sites – because crops like maize provide a far higher level of income.
I was pleased to learn about how the Trust works together in a forum with landowners to look at developing sustainability. We are developing here in Dorset a way of using farm subsidy which supports a holistic approach to land management.