Branching out: what trees can do for farming – The Property Chronicle
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Branching out: what trees can do for farming

Golden Oldie

Originally published 28 January 2020.

As UK agriculture faces major funding changes, one important resource should not be overlooked in developing sustainable farming systems

Those who remember farming in the decades after the second world war, especially the 1970s, will know that the emphasis was very much on production. Arable farmers were encouraged and even incentivised to utilise every hectare (or acre, as it was then) of their land for production. Hedges and trees were often removed to increase the productive area. Over the years, with changes in farm support, those farmers have been encouraged to create field margins linked to support payments, but trees have still not been in focus. Farm woodland, where it still remains, is often undermanaged, acting as cover for game birds or shelter for the farmhouse. 

Looking forward, the new farm support systems will be based on producing public benefit in all its forms. Farmers will need to create plans for their total holding, showing clearly the public benefits they will bring in terms of food production, environmental enhancement and other social outcomes. The need to look at integrated approaches to land management to produce such public benefit – and also to respond to climate change – will highlight the value of trees.

Golden Oldie

About John Moverley

John Moverley

John graduated in Agriculture and was awarded the Wood Prize for best student in the subject and a College Scholarship. After holding a research fellowship and lectureship at Nottingham University, John’s subsequent career has spanned the public, private and charitable sectors with 20 years at chief executive level. John has held numerous regional and national posts and his last full time post was as Chief Executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. Current roles include chairman of the Amenity Forum, a Forestry & Woodlands Advisory Committee and Mercia Community Forest. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and the Institute of Agricultural Engineers and holds honorary Fellowships at both the University of Central Lancashire and Myerscough College and his chair is at De Montfort University. In 2004, he was awarded the OBE for services to agriculture and education and has recently been elected President at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, for the 2018/19 academic year.

Articles by John Moverley

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