The GLNP try to work from all our partners’ offices on a rotating basis, and on Monday had the pleasure of spending the day with FWAG.
The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SouthWest) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation.
FWAG was first established as a charity in the 1960s by a group of forward thinking farmers who saw that the environment was an important part of a successful farming business.
FWAG SouthWest shares this vision today and acts to:
The core of FWAG's work is offering farm advice, including advising on agri-environment scheme options. In Gloucestershire the team, ably led by Jenny Phelps, has developed a framework of Integrated Local Delivery, joining together lots of strategic priorities at the local level (see image below). FWAG specialise in facilitating local stakeholders to deliver multiple benefits and economies of scale, leveraging additional funding, often across a water environment or catchment, for the benefit of nature. Putting farmers and communities at the heart of everything they do.
FWAG is one of three organisations in Gloucestershire (along with Glos Wildlife Trust and Cotswold Conservation Board) who lead on an ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) trial - a DEFRA pilot project designed to inform any future agricultural subsidy scheme post-Brexit. It is widely acknowledged that the current subsidy scheme, the Common Agricultural Policy, is to blame for a high proportion of environmental degradation in the UK in the last 40 years. Farmers have had a hard time in the media of late, but on-the-ground experience, backed up by Will Frazer of the NFU, shows farmers already do a lot for the environment, particularly in Gloucestershire.
Most farmers want to farm better, and organisations like FWAG and projects like ELMS are key to delivering on this. It is commonly reported that a future subsidy scheme will consist of a base payment dependent on the value of the natural capital that exists on farm, and an additional payment for any interventions a farmer makes to add to or improve the value of the ecosystem services delivered by that natural capital. This is what is meant by 'public money for public goods' - that government will fill the gap on externalities not accounted for by the market.
The GLNP will host an event at RAU, Cirencester on Friday 7th Feb from 10am to midday for those who are interested to find out more about ELMS. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.