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North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty free online Spring webinar programme

Session in March and April

THE team at the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have been holding a series of free online webinars focussing on topics of interest to farmers and land managers in the North Wessex Downs, which covers large parts of West Berkshire and North Hampshire.

Extensive changes have been proposed in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the Agriculture Bill, with future farming support being based on “public money for public goods” alongside the production of food.

These presentations are aimed to help give context to some of the proposed changes.

Subjects include farmer clusters, natural capital, soil health and the role of hedges – with presenters who are all experts in their field with in-depth knowledge and experience.

The series kicked off at the beginning of March with Chilterns farmer Ian Waller and landowner engagement officer Nick Marriner from the Chilterns Conservation Board sharing their experiences of the Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster.

The 18 farmers in the group are leading the way in supporting nature recovery in the Chilterns and have set themselves the challenge of finding ways of working together to create more habitat for their birds, butterflies and plants.

On March 11, Paul Silcock, managing director of Cumulus Consultants, introduced the concept of ‘natural capital’ and shared his extensive knowledge and experience of working with the land-based sector and applying a natural capital approach both in policy and practice and what this could mean for your farm.

Professor Jenni Dungait, a globally-renowned soil scientist, will provided an introduction to Finding Out More About Your Soil, Part 1 on Friday, March 19, and will follow it up with Part 2 on Thursday, April 15, with a tailor-made presentation to address feedback, issues and questions raised in the earlier session.

Dr Rob Wolton, ecological consultant and hedgerow specialist, will speak on The Future Role of Hedges on Thursday, March 25, and highlight the value hedges can bring to a farm business and look at their various functions, particularly in context of the incoming environmental land management schemes.

More information and booking details for all the free webinars can be found on the North Wessex Downs website at www.northwessexdowns.org.uk

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