Nature Recovery delivered through landscape scale Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS)

Nature Recovery delivered through landscape scale Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS)

Angus Wells, Woodland & Technical Manager for Albanwise Environment

Our mission

At Albanwise Environment we are on a nature recovery mission. A mission to increase habitat connectivity and to restore abundant populations of species across our estates and the landscapes we work in. We have a dedicated in-house team who are passionate about our natural environment, and are creating and managing habitats on our farms, from planting new hedgerows, to sowing winter bird food plots and grazing species-rich grasslands. This work is contributing towards national efforts to reverse species declines and restore our biodiversity. 

What are we doing to increase habitat connectivity?

We have recently created and enhanced a network of habitats on one of our farms in Norfolk which we are excited to see take shape over the next few years. Through our Countryside Stewardship scheme, we have established habitat for pollinators and wild birds, undertaken new hedgerow planting and hedgerow laying to improve, expand, and join up our existing habitats. Through an England Woodland Creation Offer we have planted new areas of woodland to link existing mature broadleaf woodlands.  We have planted 12 different tree species, including Oak, Hornbeam, Birch, and Hazel, some grown from our own tree nursery.

How ELMS helps in habitat creation and connection

At Albanwise Environment we deliver Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) on a landscape scale through our farms, as well as working with other farmers and land managers. This enables us to create nature friendly corridors and connect areas of high value habitats across the wider landscape.  The connections we can create between woodlands, wetlands, and species-rich grasslands enables species to move across the landscape, contributing to species recovery as species thrive and fulfil their potential. Our team is skilled in identifying opportunities to enhance habitat connectivity, and then using the funding available to deliver and manage these habitats.

In England, the key tool for achieving this at scale is the Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), which are government grants to provide a range of habitat creation and restoration measures. Some of the key areas of work we deliver with these schemes include:

  • Hedgerow planting & restoration – we carry out this work across our farms each winter; and have undertaken over 29.5km of new hedgerow planting and 13.5km of hedgerow laying over the past two seasons! This creates further links between the 425km network of existing hedgerows, enhancing nesting and foraging habitat for a wide range of species, particularly our declining farmland bird species such as yellowhammer and corn-bunting.

  • Field margins – we establish and manage a range of habitat types in margins around most of our field edges. Usually 6m wide, these include flower-rich grass margins to provide habitat for pollinators, tussocky grass margins to protect watercourses (which in turn provide invertebrate habitat and foraging for species such as owls), as well as cultivated margins for rare arable plants to flourish in.

  • Habitat plots – these include areas planted to provide bird seed for boosting our wild bird populations and help them feed through the ‘hungry gap’ over winter when other food sources in the landscape are scarce. We also boost these areas by supplementary feeding specialised seed mixes.

  • Woodlands – we are managing our woodlands for environmental and financial sustainability through long-term management. We are also planting new broadleaf & mixed woodlands to enhance and connect existing woodland habitats, restoring woodland cover and sequestering carbon.

For habitat connectivity to work effectively at a landscape scale it needs as many farmers and land managers as possible to play their part. For many farms the sustainable land management grants available will diversify income and future proof existing farming businesses.

To contact us for an initial discussion in how we can help you access, create, and deliver ELMS schemes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship, and England Woodland Creation Offer contact me directly.