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The Forest Farming Group

The Forest Farming Group

The Forest Farming Group (FFG) has its origins in the decision of the UK to leave the European Union and consequently the Common Agricultural Policy. The CAP has been the mechanism for providing financial support to New Forest farmers and land managers through the Single Payment Scheme, Basic Payment Scheme and environmental stewardship schemes; Countryside Stewardship and Higher Level Stewardship.

The primary focus of the Group has been to work together to promote the need for a bespoke scheme of payments for public benefits to be put in place post 2020 (when the UK formally leaves the EU); to obtain appropriate reward the New Forest’s farmers for the environmental services that they provide, either through practicing their common rights or managing their land within and around the National Park. The group has identified the range of public goods provided by the New Forest (see Appendix 1) and published the report ‘Understanding the New Forest’s Natural Capital’ in 2018 which gives an evidence base and proposes a structure to help create a replacement for the current system that will be specially suited to the New Forest area.

The Group has made representations to government ministers and officials and responded to consultations on the future of farming and the Environmental Land Management (ELM) Policy Discussion Document.

The primary purpose of the Group is to work collaboratively to ensure continued financial support from the emerging ELM Scheme and other sources of funding in order to maintain and enhance the public goods that the New Forest provides to society.

In so doing the Group will provide a single voice to represent members on key issues whilst ensuring it complements and supports rather than duplicates the work of other groups and agencies.

It is not intended for the membership of this Group to automatically become signatories and/or beneficiaries of a new scheme.

Aim of the Group:

To deliver the public goods defined in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan (Ref A) and those identified in the FFG’s Natural Capital Report (Ref B) the FFG seeks to ensure that, any Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELM) are fit for purpose for the unique landscape of the New Forest and it’s people. In doing so ELM will deliver landscape and nature recovery whilst protecting the traditional way of commoning and Forest life.

The FFG works collaboratively in designing a ‘joined up’, landscape-scale land management scheme over the New Forest National Park’s 27,691 hectares (68,424 acres) of common land (Ref C). As such it is critical that future land management schemes operating in the New Forest fulfill the following objectives:

  • Bespoke and flexible in nature
  • Delivers nature recovery through habitat restoration and management which protects and enhances biodiversity and sequesters and stores carbon
  • Delivers enhancements in water quality across the catchment
  • Protects and promotes a sustainable and robust commoning system with the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Supports enhanced management of recreation
  • Facilitates educational engagement
  • Protects and enhances the New Forest’s historic environment and landscape character
  • Improves air quality in the area

What’s happening now:

Through the Group, the Forest has been awarded grant support for a feasibility study to investigate the eligibility requirements and appropriateness of the various options available to guide decision making about future applications.

The Group will communicate the outputs of this process when they are produced, likely towards March of 2025.

Linked documents

The full Terms of Reference can be found here 
FFG Vision Document

Minutes of past meetings can be found here


Paul
Walton
Head of Environment and Rural Economy

profile

'We help commoners to continue their ancient way by providing grants, training and advice.'

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