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Recognition Needed for Landowners in Fight to Protect Wildlife
2010-09-23

The CLA today has criticised some of the recommendations of the newly published "Making Space for Nature" report, saying they must look more closely at the contribution of landowners.

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The Association agreed with the report that more must be done to protect wildlife but said the role of farmers and land managers has been down-played.

CLA President William Worsley said: "The report needs to recognise that it is only farmers and land managers who can create and protect the sort of environment we all want to see in the countryside. They are the ones who can effectively manage the hay meadows, ponds and hedgerows on which wildlife depends.

"Many of the recommendations in the report will penalise those who already manage their land sensitively for wildlife, for example, by unreasonably increasing planning restrictions on land that could be 'potentially' important for wildlife in the future. Wildlife management has an economic cost, and if rural businesses are prevented from evolving to meet the changing demands of the marketplace, the delivery of wildlife management will ultimately decline."

Mr Worsley added: "I am, however, pleased that the report endorses the need for retaining Government environmental grants, as they have demonstrated that landowners can achieve good results when provided with the right encouragement. Landowners could do even more if they were allowed to receive other funding only currently available to conservation groups.

"Massive cuts to public spending means it is essential for the Government to ensure that farmers and land managers are on board. This is the 'Big Society' vision in action. Without them, England's wildlife network will not be strengthened because nobody will be able to look after it or afford to pay for it."

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