Pioneering national park project comes to a close

A pioneering national park initiative which aimed to develop the landscape, wildlife and recreational value of a farmer's land as an income asset has ended.

Established in 1990 with an initial budget of £50,000, The North York Moors National Park Farm Scheme encouraged farmers to improve the landscape of the national park and thus improve their businesses. At its peak in the late 1990s, there were 113 Farm Scheme Agreements and a budget of nearly £450,000.

It influenced the development of agri-environment policy in England and Wales and Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Schemes used the North York Moors Farm Scheme as an example of best practice.

North York Moors National Park Authority director of conservation David Renwick said: "The Farm Scheme was set up at a time of great debate about the impact of modern farming on the environment. It sought to encourage sensitive land management while maintaining farm viability, particularly the traditional family farms typical of upland areas.

"Its achievements are there for all to see on the ground in the North York Moors – Farndale for example, owes much of its unspoilt beauty to the scheme. But what it also brought is a good working relationship between the National Park and those who farm here. This is an important legacy and one we will do our utmost to maintain."

The majority of the farms involved in the Farm Scheme have now been transferred to Natural England’s stewardship schemes.

The National Park will supplement this funding with smaller grants for farmers and land managers such as its Traditional Boundary Scheme for drystone walling and hedgerow restoration and planting.

Through the scheme farmers in the national park have:

•       restored 81.4 kilometres of hedgerow

•       restored 40.4 kilometres of wall, resulting in 210 kilometres of wall in good condition

•       repaired 140 traditional buildings

•       recorded 3097 archaeological features

•       planted over 14,000 broadleaved trees

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