Farming programme makes 100th award in Dorset AONB

Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme celebrates exceptional progress both  nationally and locally.  In the Dorset AONB, over £1million has been allocated to farmers and the programme has just reached its 100th award.

New brush harvester with Tom Sneith and Nick Gray, Dorset AONB

More than 5,000 farmers and land managers have now benefited from the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme, new figures have shown.

The programme, now in its third year, offers funding to farmers across AONBs and National Parks. Support for nature recovery and climate resilient businesses, heritage conservation and better access for people to enjoy our protected landscapes all feature in programme delivery. To date, £25 million has been allocated, and more than 2,400 projects have been approved for funding. The new report – Farming in Protected Landscapes programme: Year 2 update – showcases projects across National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) which have benefited from the Defra funding.

New sheep handling facility with Nicky and Nick Green, Dorset AONB

Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Manager and NAAONB Agriculture & Land Use Panel spokesperson added:

The huge successes of FIPL over the last two years has demonstrated how AONB teams are uniquely placed to facilitate on-farm projects to deliver for nature, climate, people and place across these treasured landscapes. While our pre-existing networks with farmers and advisers helped us hit the ground running, FIPL has helped us cement these relationships and to be regarded as trusted delivery bodies. These landscapes have been shaped by thousands of years of farming and it’s only by working like this at scale with farmers that we will adequately respond to the climate and ecological emergency while ensuring rural communities thrive underpinned by sustainable farm businesses.”

Chrissy and Jake Hancock with visitors on accessible trailer, Dorset AONB

The report was launched on 20th June 2023 at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for National Parks. Attendees heard from representatives from across protected landscapes and farming community about the importance of sustainability and land management to the future of these special places, and how farmers and other land managers play a vital role in shaping the landscapes they operate within to enhance the natural and cultural heritage, improve productivity, and create more vibrant, sustainable communities.

Toby Hoad with new Horse Drawn Forwarder, Dorset AONB

In the Dorset AONB the benefits to nature, climate, people and place are all evident in the 100th project to receive support – the Devils Brook and Chesel Stream Project, coordinated by Farming and Wildlife Group South West. Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme support has enabled farmers to work together on small scale actions that will have  big impact. Reducing water run-off from the surrounding fields will improve water quality for wildlife, help prevent flooding, protect soils and ensure food production.

Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty FiPL Programme Officer Rachel Janes enthused:

“It has been the greatest pleasure working with farmers and land managers who are keen to try out new ways of working to bring wider benefit to their farming practice. There have been so many inspiring ideas, all capable of being turned into positive action with a bit of support. We’ve supported Dorset AONB farmers with £1million so far and have a further £1million to allocate, so would love to hear from other farmers!”

Tom Gregory with compost at Marsh Farm, Dorset AONB

Other Dorset supported projects include:

  • New compost turner to help demonstrate the use of nutrient dense compost from farmyard manure and other raw ingredients, replacing the need for bought-in fertiliser.
  • Purchase of a bespoke seed harvester to help restore and expand meadows in West Dorset, with over 12ha of new meadows seeded in 2022 at 18 individual sites.
  • Mobile sheep handling system to allow flexible grazing of botanically diverse chalk grasslands.
  • Extracting timber by horse, to be used in coppice products and charcoal, as part of a 5 year restoration of hazel coppice and ride widening in a very wet and sensitive woodland.
  • Habitat creation and protection for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly along part of the North Dorset Escarpment and creating and connecting suitable habitat on neighbouring sites.
  • Arresting the decline and collapse of Holditch Court Tower, a nationally important Scheduled Monument (and Grade 1 Listed building) so that it could be removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.
  • Providing a wheelchair accessible trailer to enable access to very extensive wildlife sites for people who may not be able to access these landscapes easily.
Holditch Tower renovations, Dorset AONB

Originally intended as a three  year programme, Defra have extended support for the Farming in Protected Landscape programme until March 2025. In Dorset AONB, the total allocation of funds from Defra is £2.18 million and around £1million is still available. Farmers and landowners are invited to contact the Dorset AONB team to discuss any project ideas and any support they need to make an application.

Further information:  Visit the Dorset AONB Farming in Protected Landscapes webpage or contact the FiPL Project Officer on or 01305 228256