The first major assessment of an agri-environment "Payment by Results" pilot has shown the project is boosting local wildlife and motivating farmers to develop nature-friendly practices.
Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority tracked 34 farmers who had the freedom to choose how they managed their land to enhance the environment, under a ‘payment by results’ pilot. The farmers recorded a 43% increased score for number and diversity of seed bearing plants than nearby sites under conventional funding schemes, which pay a flat rate for actions taken rather than by results achieved. There were resulting benefits for bird, butterfly and bee populations as well as general biodiversity.
The report on the pilot from Natural England concluded the result-based approach has “considerable potential” for the design of the future Environmental Land Management scheme – the government’s future vision for farming outside the EU.
The news will also be encouraging for water companies interested in exploring Payments for Ecosystem Services further, and for their wider catchment management work.