Searching for Britain’s most wildlife-friendly farmer
Fergus was lucky enough to be invited back to judge the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Award this year. Here's his rundown of the shortlist.
I was lucky enough to be invited back to judge the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Award this year. With fellow judges Martin Harper from the RSPB, Martin Warren of Butterfly Conservation and Victoria Chester of Plantlife, my job was to sift through entries to find a shortlist of four regional finalists to put forward to a public vote.
The awards are a great idea – rewarding farmers who go the extra mile to conserve wildlife and natural habitats on farms and the emphasis is on farms that are clearly fully functioning, profitable businesses.
The reason for this is simple: if it can be shown that business and wildlife can live side by side (and in the case of bees, work for the business), then it is easier to persuade other farmers who’d like to help their local nature but feel it will impinge on their viability as a business.
Anyway, judging was a tough process because it’s hard to compare big farms with small, dairy with arable, upland with lowland etc. But what you can compare is effort, innovation, passion and ability to spread the word. And the four finalists meet all those criteria handsomely.