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Farmer Group Forum on the Marlborough Downs

Farmer Groups join forces for event on Temple Farm

May 2019

On 21 May, farmers and advisers from across the country met up on the Marlborough Downs to share their experiences of farmer led, landscape scale conservation. Representatives from 18 groups from as far afield as Devon and Norfolk got together for talks on how farmer led groups are making a real difference to the habitats, species, soil health, water quality and historic features of their local landscapes, and how we might look to wider collaboration as we go forward with new farming and environment policies.


The farmer led conservation movement started back in 2012 when the Marlborough Downs farmers won Defra funding in the Nature Improvement Area pilot scheme. The concept was further developed by the Game and Wildlfie Conservation Trust's Farmer Clusters, and now there are over 100 groups across England. 

We had a brilliant day in the sunshine with morning talks on the history of the Marlborough Downs Space for Nature and how the farmer led conservation movement has grown nationally, with updates on reversing the decline of tree sparrows on the Downs and the ever-increasing involvement of the non-farming community. A lively Q&A session, then lots of discussion over a hog roast and on trailer rides to see various things that we've been working on for the past seven years - birds and ponds, wildflowers and butterflies, to name but a few.


The event was very well received and was a chance for farmers and their advisers to find out what different groups around the country get up to in terms of collaborative conservation work, but also how they are structured, governed and funded. It was a valuable opportunity to learn lessons from one another, as well as to share ideas about how we might influence whatever the future holds for the landscape scale approach post Brexit.

Thank you again to everyone who participated; to the speakers, caterers, technicians and tractor drivers; and to our host, Count Konrad Goess-Saurau.  We hope that this will become an annual event, and that another group in a different part of the country will come forward to host next year - any volunteers, do get in touch!

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