PLMA in the press : Collaboration with Nature - 'Farmer clusters' foster landscape-scale conservation

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Featured in LandBusiness Issue 87 Summer 2023

Collaboration with Nature - 'Farmer clusters' foster landscape-scale conservation

Landscape-scale environmental conservation is impossible to achieve by farmers and land managers working alone. ‘Farmer clusters’ are designed to solve this dilemma. They involve groups of farmers working together, helped by an advisor or ‘facilitator’. This allows greater cohesion and enables them to collectively deliver wider benefits for soil, water and wildlife.

Wildlife Estate Scotland (WES) Cluster, Pentland Hills

"Involving a group of six PLMA members, it focuses on landscape scale habitat management and includes livestock. Cluster members will gather data on habitat management options and over time the goal is to deliver landscape scale riparian planting, peatland restoration and changes to grazing practices..."

...Jenny believes the future looks promising for land managers with a passion for biodiversity and ecosystem services. If that’s matched with finance there can be meaningful change...

However, she said The Scottish Government has stifled forward planning by keeping land managers in the dark about upcoming agricultural policy. “We don’t know if it’s best to wait and see what the new policy reveals or forge ahead with new plans using old systems,” she observed.

“We’re hoping for transparency, aspiration, and recognition of Scotland's uplands as a place for nature-friendly farming, and for biodiversity to be rewarded and encouraged. It would be good to see funding to manage responsible public access so that rural livelihoods and wildlife can flourish as part of a landscape that works for all. And we hope there is support for grassroots clusters, allowing people to farm with nature while earning a living wage."