High Nature Value (HNV) areas are important for biodiversity, recreation and other ‘public goods’. Without BPS payments, many farms in the UK are not able to generate a profit. This is a particular problem in areas affected by significant natural handicaps, such as low soil productivity or poor climate conditions, and where maintaining extensive farming activity is important for the management of the land (e.g. upland areas, National Parks, AONBs). Farm intensification is not a viable option in HNV areas; higher inputs will lead to higher costs and even lower profitability. A different approach is needed.
Practical alternatives to farm intensification was the focus of recent work undertaken by Cumulus Consultants for the Tees-Swale: naturally connected project managed by the North Pennines AONB. We found that, with a change in business model or approach, some farmers have managed to reduce stock numbers and production to an economically and environmentally sustainable level. This has involved significantly reducing costs and focusing on quality and marketing, thereby enhancing the return from the livestock produced. In addition, they are able to deliver a wider range of products including ‘public goods’ and diversified products and services which can increase profit further, view here.
Please contact us if you are interested to find out more about sustainable land management and our experience and research in this area.