Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many Environmental Land Management scheme test and trials projects will (a) incorporate an objective to increase tree cover through woodland creation, agroforestry or increased hedgerows and (b) undertake to investigate carbon storage and mitigation.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The cornerstone of our new agricultural policy is the development of a new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs), which will be underpinned by the payment of public money for the provision of public goods. In determining what ELMs will pay for, we are mapping the environmental public goods for ELMs, the interventions that may contribute to their delivery and the evidence base that supports this. We recognise that woodland creation may contribute to several of the environmental public goods that ELMs will pay for, including mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, thriving plants and wildlife, and clean air. Activities that therefore may be paid for include tree planting, woodland creation and woodland management, including through natural regeneration. An evidence framework has been put in place to ensure that all land management interventions which ELMs will incentivise will be based on up to date scientific evidence.

We set up tests and trials as a means to support the development of the ELMs. The work is being facilitated by a range of stakeholders, including farmer groups, representative bodies and non-governmental organisations and will cover a range of geographies and sectors. Tests and trials provide us with a mechanism to co-design and test the new scheme with farmers and land managers and understand how it works in a real life environment. We will not use tests and trials to validate if specific delivery methods achieve particular environmental outcomes, such as woodland creation or carbon storage, but will focus instead on the building blocks of the new scheme.

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