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Peak welcome for DEFRA's new countryside conservation scheme

This is an archived press release

Thursday 3 March 2005

3 March 2005

Peak welcome for DEFRA's new countryside conservation scheme

The Peak District National Park Authority has welcomed the launch today (3 March) of a major new scheme to conserve and enhance the countryside.

The Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is launching its Environmental Stewardship Scheme to encourage farmers and landowners to ensure that their farming practices are environmentally sensitive. It will offer payments in return for achieving conservation and recreation actions.

Peak District National Park Authority director of conservation and development John Lomas said: "National Parks are England's finest landscapes and contain a rich diversity of wildlife and cultural heritage. But they can be harsh environments for those making a living from farming. The new Environmental Stewardship Scheme provides a vital opportunity to work together with farmers and others to look after our heritage and, at the same time, help sustain rural businesses and communities."

Chair of the Association of English National Park Authorities, Stephen Pugsley said:

"Looking after our National Parks relies on a partnership with those who make a living from the land. DEFRA's Environmental Stewardship Scheme provides a way for farmers to focus more on caring for our countryside rather than simply increasing production to try to stay viable."

"Important features such as habitats for birds, insects and mammals, flower-rich pastures and meadows, hedgerows, drystone walls, moorlands and heathland throughout our National Parks can benefit from the new scheme.”

National Parks cover 8 per cent of England, contain much of the nation's uplands and moorlands, and include about a quarter of the most important nature conservation areas. National Park Authorities already have many years' experience of working closely with farmers and landowners to look after these special places, and the new scheme improves the prospects for that work.

Peak District National Park farmers and landowners should contact the Authority's countryside and economy manager Suzanne Fletcher on 01629 816349 to find out what help is available.

This is an archived press release

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