A year with Farming in Protected Landscapes

Defra’s investment in the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme grew this year with a significant budget increase and an extra year to deliver the programme (to March 2025). In the Surrey Hills we have continued to work at scale with a total ‘hedge count’ (new hedges planted) by Spring 2023 of over 12 km. This will be further increased over the winter this year and is expected to make a significant contribution to improving green corridors for wildlife across the landscape with the increased biodiversity that comes with it.

Some other highlights:
  • The fund has provided grants for equipment to help restore heathland by reducing the impact of bracken which otherwise can dominate this important habitat
  • Farmers have been able to purchase GPS collars for conservation grazing cattle for locations where fencing is impractical
  • It has been really interesting to trial some small-scale education projects on farms, giving children from communities which rarely visit the countryside a chance to visit a farm and meet the animals (and the farmer!).  We have also funded facilities such as an accessible toilet to enable as many children as possible to come onto a farm
  • A fantastic pond restoration project which has included some beautiful educational materials to be used by schools learning about water and conservation
  • A number of volunteer groups have received tools to help with their conservation work at various sites across the Surrey Hills.  This not only makes a huge contribution to improving habitats but also promotes the many benefits of volunteering, socially and for health and well-being

We have a big year ahead in 2024, with some really exciting projects developing including natural flood management schemes, a Care Farm pilot project, which FiPL can add value to, and working with even more farmers and land managers to help with nature recovery across the National Landscape.