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Adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate. Jim Smyllie Executive Director, Regional Delivery. A ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in coming decades. Climate change Population growth Growing pressure on food, energy and water supplies

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adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate

Adapting landscapes and farming to a changing climate

Jim Smyllie

Executive Director, Regional Delivery

a perfect storm of challenges in coming decades
A ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in coming decades
  • Climate change
  • Population growth
  • Growing pressure on food, energy and water supplies
  • Farmers, foresters, land managers will be directly affected
  • And have a central role to play
consequences of climate change for farming
Consequences of climate change for farming

Consequences of:

    • warmer conditions
    • longer growing seasons...
    • drought...
    • extreme hot weather...
    • storms and heavy rainfall...

will bring both threats and


  • Effects will vary from area to area

and from year to year.

Photo courtesy of Farming Futures


This has significant implications for food production

  • AND for all the other benefits that agricultural land provides to society
the cotswolds clearly demonstrates the wider benefits of farmland
The Cotswolds clearly demonstrates the wider benefits of farmland
  • Biodiversity:

limestone grasslands, ancient woodlands, farmland birds, wildflowers, rare species

recreation public health and tourism
Recreation, public health and tourism
  • Over 3,000 miles of public footpaths; 38 million day visitors each year
  • Major tourist


local communities and livelihoods
Local communities and livelihoods

(built up over centuries of human habitation)

Sheepscombe Village

environmental regulating services
Environmental ‘regulating services’
  • e.g. water cycling and


  • carbon storage
landscape change
Landscape change
  • The Cotswolds landscape has changed in the past:
    • Natural processes
    • Quarrying and building of towns
    • Grazing, cropping, forestry
  • And will continue to change as the climate changes:
    • Ecosystems
    • Farming systems and location of production
    • Overall landscape changes
climate change is already having an effect
Climate change is already having an effect
  • Adonis Blue butterfly is back in the Cotswolds after 40 years of absence
  • Milder winters and hot summer weather probably a significant factor
managing change
Managing change
  • Need to accept and manage future change, but not all changes need be bad
  • Opportunities as well as threats
  • Accept that change will happen, but to try to maintain the benefits the area provides
we need an integrated approach
We need an integrated approach

Healthy natural environment

Local communities & livelihoods

Agricultural production

Wider social benefits

farmers as providers of vital green infrastructure
Farmers as providers of vital ‘green infrastructure’
  • Farmers have an important role to help society adapt. E.g.:
    • Management of surface water: sustainable drainage systems, ponds, wetlands, water meadows, river flood plains  
    • Planting and maintaining trees
  • Effective, sustainable and cost effective
  • Increasingly important as climate change continues
adaptation action
Adaptation action
  • Joint project between Defra, NE, EA and FC has identified wide range of actions farmers are likely to need to carry out
    • Planning and risk assessment
    • Changing and diversifying crops
    • Land management (e.g. trees and sustainable drainage)
    • Technology and infrastructure
    • Management of crops, livestock, chemical inputs and water

Many actions have multiple benefits for agricultural production, natural ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gases

  • Many of these correspond to current

good practice

Photo courtesy of Farming Futures

Photo courtesy of Farming Futures


‘Adaptive management’ approach

  • No single solution and no ‘one size fits all’ response. Adaptation must address local issues and aspirations
  • Placed-based visions important (‘What are we adapting for?’)
the role of agri environment schemes
The role of agri-environment schemes
  • Provide an important income stream to encourage provision of a wider range of benefits from agricultural land
  • Across England we now have over 58 000 agreements, bringing almost 67% of agricultural land under some form of environmental management
agri environment schemes and mitigation
Agri-environment schemes and mitigation
  • Increase carbon storage in soils and vegetation
  • Reduce inputs of fuel, fertiliser and pesticides
  • ES sequesters ~ 1.6m tonnes C yr-1 in soils across the country (equivalent to approx. 5% of all emissions from English agriculture)
  • E.g.: Restoration of peatlands unfertilised buffer strips



agri environment schemes and adaptation
Agri-environment schemes and adaptation
  • Restore and create habitats
  • Buffer habitats
  • Protect soils and water
  • Can help provide the sorts of

‘green infrastructure’

discussed earlier

  • Through HLS alone we have spent around £90m in the last three years on measures that contribute to mitigation or adaptation or both


agri environment schemes in the cotswolds
Agri-environment schemes in the Cotswolds
  • Agri-environment agreements cover the majority of the Cotswold Hills
  • Priority target area for HLS
  • More than 700 Environmental Stewardship agreements
  • Covering an area of over 73,000ha
  • Value of over £42m
  • Plus several hundred existing ESA and CSS agreements
farmland birds and much more
Farmland birds (and much more)
  • The Cotswolds has nationally important populations of farmland birds
  • One of four projects in the wider South West Farmland Bird initiative,
  • Targeted advice to ask farmers to deliver package of important habitat options
  • Working with CCB

Huge response from Cotswolds farming community:

65 out of 69 farms that we approached have signed up

  • 26 agreements now live or have been offered
  • Great results already both for birds and for wider environmental objectives
  • SW farmland bird approach has now been adopted nationwide
advice on soil and water management
Advice on soil and water management
  • Good soil and water management will be a foundation of sustainable adaptation
  • Natural England’s SW region has recently launched the Soils 4 Profit scheme
  • Joint project between RDA, EA and NE
  • £3.4 m of funding up to 2013
  • Provides advice to landowners on nutrient use
landscape connectivity
Landscape connectivity
  • Protected landscapes need to be connected and work properly from both an ecological and cultural perspective
  • Working with CCB to connect fragmented Cotswolds habitats through Environmental Stewardship
  • Focusing on limestone grasslands in the west Cotswolds
making our schemes even better
Making our schemes even better
  • Climate training for NE land management advisers
  • ELS advice messages on adaptation and mitigation to be incorporated into our farm advice programmes
  • Looking at reviewing some ES options
  • Improving HLS targeting (following our climate vulnerability studies across a range of English landscapes)
  • Working with Defra on the development of the Low Carbon Advisory Service
  • Protecting landscapes can bring both
    • environmental and social benefits
    • more resilient, adaptable, and profitable farms
  • Requires an integrated approach and recognition of full range of services from agricultural land
  • Important role for AONBs
  • Need to work together to prepare for future changes