New farming group set up to help business & environment in Dorset

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is pleased to support the establishment of a new, collaborative way of farmers working together in Dorset: ‘The Brit and Hooke Facilitation Fund’, where farmers and landowners in west Dorset will discuss land management, farm business and wildlife conservation issues, plus opportunities arising from Brexit.

Farmers within five neighbouring river catchments, including the Hooke and Brit, are going to be working together to benefit farm businesses and secure environmental gain in west Dorset. The group have obtained their funding from Natural England and are the only group of its kind in Dorset.

The total farm holdings of the group covers over 4800 hectares and encompass four nationally protected sites, totaling 329 hectares (813 acres), plus a further 12 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

Their successful application to Natural England was determined by a shared goal to deliver business and environmental improvements and a willingness to work together.

Integral to the group and their success, and leading the way are their coordinator, Alex Butler from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group south west (FWAGsw) alongside DWT’s Conservation Officer, Nick Gray.

Alex Butler said, “With Brexit looming on the horizon it is an uncertain time for the farming industry, this funding has provided an opportunity to share and spread knowledge and could lead to new ways of working post Brexit that will benefit farmers and the environment.”

Nick Gray said, “Dorset Wildlife Trust is delighted to partner FWAGsw in this initiative, it is an area where we have a long-standing history of working with the farmers, and they have some fantastic habitats on their land. This sort of group working is very much in-line with policy emerging from the new Agriculture proposals currently being reviewed in government. The government paper highlights the crucial role farmers play in maintaining public goods such as biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage, health and wellbeing.”