This one-day course presents the underlying principles of wildlife conservation in farming, looking at the historical co-evolution of many key species with early farming practice in the UK.
This course would also suit anyone with an interest in the UK countryside as we explore a range of on-farm habitats and associated species. Modern farming dominates our landscape, with approximately 70% of the UK countryside dedicated to agriculture. In the UK farming can be divided up into three main sectors; the dairy and the arable sector, which mainly occur on the lowlands across the UK, and the beef and sheep that mainly dominate the uplands. The beef and sheep sector is quite vulnerable to global fluctuations in commodity price and changes in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and thus many upland farms may one-day become abandoned. In lowland Britain the situation is not quite so dire but the main issue is the intensification of arable and dairy production systems across lowland Britain that since the 1960’s have resulted in significant changes to the face of the UK countryside. During the 1980’s and 1990’s it was recognised by many that something had to be done to protect UK biodiversity and eventually a number of agri-environment schemes emerged to try and protect UK flora and fauna. A number of these schemes have been very successful resulting in improved diversity and quality of habitats and key species such as the Cirl Bunting.
This one-day course is designed to reflect on an extensive mixed lowland farm in south Devon, looking at both production systems and the farmland environment. No previous knowledge is required, but an interest in the nature and diversity of UK rural sector is required. It is also desirable that participants are relatively fit, as part of the day will involve a moderate walk around the farm looking at farmland habitats and production systems.
Did you know that CREST's Sarah and Steve have written a book on this topic entitled:
'Introduction to Wildlife Conservation in Farming'?
Your day at the Farm
After a brief introduction to the team we will start with a talk on the history of farming and the co-evolution of numerous UK habitats and associated flora and fauna. This talk establishes the present-day context of UK agriculture and associated wildlife. We will then take a coffee and tea break before the next phase of the course – which will involve a walk to nearby arable and pasture fields to review cropping systems in the field and reflect on agricultural inputs and the potential impact on the environment. Following this we will take a 45-minute lunch break. After lunch another 40 minute seminar will introduce a number of key farmland habitats and their accompanying species, this will then be followed by another farmland walk that will encompass both the production and conservation of the land. During the walk we will identify key components of the farmland landscape and reflect on historical and modern policy drivers that were or are designed to protect and enhance farmland biodiversity.
During the day participants will be introduced to a range of key analytical skills used by biologists to identify both flora and fauna, you will be asked to complete annotated line drawings of a range of plants and where possible invertebrate taxa that are key components of the farmland ecosystem. The last part of the day there will be an informal quiz where we will challenge you to identify key species rich habitats and key floral and faunal species that you will have seen throughout the day.
Participants should have sturdy footwear, and suitable clothing for a full day out and about – wet weather gear is advisable – just in case! Bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. A camera and binoculars are well worth bringing, though not required to complete your day with us. You will be provided with a booklet to complete on the way round as well as writing materials.
Health and Safety
Before the visit you will be provided with a brief medical checklist that you will need to send to us prior to the visit. A risk assessment has been prepared and will be discussed in the trip briefing. A copy will also be included in your course book.
Please Contact us if you wish to sign up for this course