BBC Wildlife Magazine

Down on the farm


Mark Carwardine is right to celebrate a post-Brexit scheme to pay farmers who preserve habitat for wildlife (My way of thinking, May 2020). However, a firm commitment to enforcemen­t and monitoring will be required if the policy is to succeed.

With our embattled farmers under increasing pressure from climate change and an uncertain market (not to mention probable trade tariffs with Europe), the temptation to breach the terms may prove too strong for some.

So often the evidence shows that when funding is tight, government support for environmen­tal causes falls by the wayside. While I share Mark’s delight at this ground-breaking idea, I hope that ministers will uphold their pledges to ensure its long-term success.

Rob Buxton, via email

If Mark Carwardine is suggesting that the Common Agricultur­al Policy (CAP) is one of the main reasons we have lost so much wildlife across Britain, then I am afraid he is drasticall­y over-simplifyin­g. Unlike him, perhaps, I am old enough to have a clear memory of British agricultur­al land before we joined the EEC. In northeast Fife, in the 1950s and ’60s, the intensive fields of sugar beet did not harbour wildflower­s, numerous butterflie­s or great flocks of small birds. British farmers had taken to chemical weed killers and pesticides with enthusiasm well before this. ‘Silent spring’ was almost as relevant to Britain as to the USA.

I now see more fields red with poppies in the South of France than I did in Fife back then. In the Cerdagne last year, we saw the most beautiful meadows – despite decades of the much-maligned CAP.

Robin Noble, via email

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