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Agriculture: Biodiversity

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage biodiversity in agriculture.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage agriculture that supports bee populations.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a devolved matter, and the information provided relates to England only. Across the country, the Government is investing in restoring wildlife-rich habitats and supporting species recovery, including within agricultural environments.

The Government provides substantial public funding for managing protected sites and restoring wildlife habitats, spending £2.9 billion on agri-environment schemes in England through our 7-year Rural Development Programme. Through our programme we encourage farmers and land managers to manage their land to protect and enhance the natural environment by improving biodiversity. For pollinators specifically, the Countryside Stewardship ‘wildlife offers’ provide payments for farmers and landowners to plant nectar and pollen-rich plants for insect pollinators and are now open for applications for agreements starting in 2021.

Looking to the future, our new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will be the cornerstone of our agricultural policy. Founded on the principle of “public money for public goods”, ELM is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions, while supporting our rural economy.

Thriving plants and wildlife are public goods identified in the 25 Year Environment Plan and an important objective for ELM. ELM will provide funding for the management of habitats to support this objective.

The 25 Year Environment Plan also sets out the government’s plans to put Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at the heart of our approach. We are undertaking a review of the National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides which will focus on the development and introduction of IPM and of alternatives to pesticides.

We work to ensure and encourage specific action for pollinators through each of these and other initiatives, with our partners on the National Pollinator Strategy. The Strategy sets out how Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of pollinating insect species in England, on and beyond farmland.

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