U.K. TO PAY ENGLISH FARMERS AND LANDOWNERS FOR "REWILDING" LANDS
Last week, the U.K. government announced new schemes that aim to restore natural ecosystems, stop species decline, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Local Nature Recovery and the Landscape Recovery schemes will pay landowners and farmers for undertaking environmentally beneficial actions on their properties, including actions such as restoring floodplains and wetlands, creating nature reserves, and planting trees. The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs said the schemes will help restore up to 300,000 hectares of natural habitat by 2042 and lead to sustainable management of up to 60% of England’s agriculture by 2030 (Independent). The U.K. government is also saying the schemes will help improve air and water quality.
The first two-year phase is accepting bids for pilot projects that cover between 500 and 5,000 hectares. Approximately 10 to 15 pilot projects are expected during this phase. Funding for the projects is not yet determined, but decisions are expected to be released this summer. By 2028, between £700m and £800m of yearly funding is expected to be available for the schemes (The Guardian).
While the schemes have potential, critics are skeptical. Although the government will now be paying landowners for their environmental progress as opposed to the amount of land they are farming, some say the schemes are likely not enough to meet the government’s environmental targets (BBC). Some are concerned with their lack of detail, and some are arguing that additional measures, such as targets for pesticide reduction, are necessary to meet the government’s targets. Tenant farmers are concerned with how they can partake in the schemes and whether their landlords will partake in the schemes and end their tenancies.