The reason I was hobnobbing in the rather grand Cholmondeley room and terrace is that the RSPB are celebrating ten years of the Volunteer & Farmer Alliance. It must be important, as they were handing out lapel pins for it as you walked in the room!
Flippancy aside, this is a scheme that put farmers together with RSPB volunteers to monitor and count farmland birds on their property. In a decade, 4,250 farms have taken advantage of the scheme and received free bird surveys. That’s a massive 350,000 hectares (nearly 1000,000 football pitches if you like such bizarre stats) surveyed, over a period of 77,000 hours (or the same time that 51,000 football matches would take to play).
This is interesting to me for a number of reasons. First up, I know that tomorrow morning, I’ll be signing off an article on 30 feel good ways to volunteer in the countryside for the next issue of Countryfile Magazineand secondly, as a judge for the Nature of Farming award, I’m a firm believer that profitable farming and the conservation of wildlife can go hand in hand.
As Hilary Benn said at the do, “Farming isn’t a competition between profit and conservation. It isn’t a punch up where one has to win. The two go hand in hand.”
Like many in the room, I found myself nodding, and also wondering what Mr Benn would finally decide about the set-aside issue.
A selection of dining tables from Dunelm Mill, a home furniture and accessories retailer.
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