Robert Ashcroft
9 January 2017

Environmental professional bodies write to Andrea Leadsom on post-Brexit land management

The collective expertise of our members will be vital in supporting the Government in this important task.

The IES, in collaboration with three other professional bodies and learned societies - the British Ecological Society (BES), the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and the Landscape Institute (LI) - has written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calling for reform of environmental land management after leaving the EU and outlining the key principles to underpin this policy.

The signatories of the letter, representing over 17,000 members, support some key recommendations outlined in the recent Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report on the Future of the Natural Environment after the EU referendum, including that a new system of land management funding to replace the Common Agricultural Policy in the UK should be designed to deliver public goods.

In 2016, the IES submitted written evidence to this inquiry, and IES Vice-President, Professor Carolyn Roberts, was also invited to give oral evidence to the committee on behalf of the Institution.

In the letter, we argue that a new Government approach should draw on the expertise of ecologists, environmental managers, landscape professionals and environmental scientists if it is to succeed, and outline several principles which should underpin a new environmental land management policy. They are:

  • A shift in the balance away from income support for farmers towards investment in the delivery of ecosystem services. This investment should be based on a principle of ‘public money for public goods’.
  • A strategic, systems approach to land management, integrating agriculture and the delivery of environmental benefits at a landscape scale that enables managers to fine-tune interventions to suit local circumstances.
  • A recognition of the connectivity between rural and urban systems and the impact of land management beyond the immediate locality.
  • An evidence-informed approach, drawing on our extensive knowledge of what makes an effective agri-environment scheme.
  • A focus on targeted outcomes and payment by results, rather than a prescriptive approach to environmental land management.

Discussing this letter, IES CEO Adam Donnan said:

Although leaving the EU poses some risks to the UK’s natural environment, it may present an opportunity to design an environmental policy framework tailored to the UK’s unique context, and which can deliver significant benefits for both people and the environment. However, we should not underestimate the size of the task and the need for effective collaboration. The collective expertise of our members will be vital in supporting the Government in this important task.”

Download the letter (pdf)

Coverage in the press:

The ENDS report - Green bodies urge reform of land management policy (£)

Environment OnSite - Future farming subsidies must help protect environment say ecologists (£)