Action to Protect Rural Scotland: Help farmers restore our wildlife-rich agricultural landscapes

Action to Protect Rural Scotland supports the Farm for Scotland’s Future campaign. In this blog director Kat Jones explains why we need a new approach to farm policy and a better set of incentives for farmers.

Scotland’s best known landscapes may be its mountains, moorlands and forests, but for those living in our towns and cities, our agricultural landscapes will be far more familiar. It is a landscape important for food production and to the people who live and work there, as well as those who visit for walks and time in nature. But it is also incredibly important for wildlife. Hedgerows and wooded burns or rivers offer wildlife corridors, field margins contain a diversity of flora.

However our agricultural landscapes are not as rich in wildlife as they were. Farmland birds have had one of the sharpest declines of all habitats – The RSPB farmland bird indicator shows a 48% decline since 1970. Farming is the second biggest source of climate emissions in Scotland and a source of nitrogen pollution to our rivers and lochs.

We need to help farmers restore our wildlife-rich agricultural landscapes and to do this, we need to get our incentives right. At present the Scottish Government spends more than half a billion pounds on farm funding every year. These payments should be designed to reduce the impacts of farming on the environment, wildlife and the climate.  

This year, with the introduction of new Scottish agriculture legislation, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a better system.

LINK and its member organisations (including APRS) are calling on the Scottish Government to give nature a chance and put in place measures to ensure that we can restore nature in our countryside.

A more biodiverse landscape is a more beautiful landscape, with more hedges and small woodlands,  a diversity of native flora on the verges and in field margins. We support LINK’s campaign because we believe that we can have a future for Scotland’s farmers that also benefits wildlife and the people that enjoy our countryside.

With Scottish Environment LINK we at APRS are calling on the Scottish Government to:

  • Replace the decades-old farm funding system with one that works for nature, climate and people.
  • Ensure at least three quarters of public spending on farming supports methods that restore nature and tackle climate change.
  • Support all farmers and crofters in the transition to sustainable farming.

This blog was first published on the APRS website on 27 September 2023.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of all the organisations backing the Farm for Scotland’s Future campaign.