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Graziers key to conserving common land.

GRAZIERS who manage common land such as Newcastle's Town Moor must continue to receive agricultural and environmental support to ensure both the quality of the landscape and that the public is able to benefit from it, according to a major report.

The Pastoral Commoning Partnership study concentrated on a million acres of livestock grazed commons across England, almost a third of which was in Cumbria. It looked at the changes in the 20 years to 2007 and predicted the likely trends over the next two decades.

Project director Andrew Humphries MBE said: "The de-coupling of support from grazing stock and the issues surrounding the Single Farm Payment has drawn the fragility of primary production into sharp focus.

"Primary production is now complemented by a range of 'public goods' which make commons of national significance for flora, fauna, access and cultural landscape which are strongly 'externally focused'.

"The challenge to Natural England and Defra to link market and public goods into a coherent and sustainable system demands timely and deep deliberation."

The increasing sizes of farms means the number of active graziers on each common has decreased, especially in the last decade.

However, this didn't happen in areas such as the New Forest where stewardship schemes have been introduced to support graziers.

Nearly eight out of 10 of the commons in the study are now involved in agri-environment schemes, as increasing numbers of areas are managed by commoners' associations.

CAPTION(S):

PROTECTING THE LANDSCAPE Agricultural and environmental support is vital to graziers who manage common land, such as Newcastle's Town Moor, according to the Pastoral Commoning Partnership study.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 21, 2009
Words:267
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