Projects are now trying to bring the management and appreciation of nature’s services – ecosystem services – to life. Here is a case study I prepared for a seminar, part of one of these projects. Please share your views in the comments section, or via twitter to me, @charlescowap
The fictional case study below has been designed to enable us to discuss three key questions in the context of Ecosystem Services (ESS):
- What ESS does and could this farm offer? If you are uncertain about what counts as an ESS, there’s a diagram below which should help.
- How can they be measured and managed?
- What practical issues does the study illustrate as far as the future development of ESS in a farming context is concerned?
Red Earth Farm is a mixed tenure farm of total 500 hectares. Of this 400 ha is rented under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, and the remainder is owned (but subject to a mortgage with the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation). The main farmhouse and two workers’ cottages are located on the rented land along with the farm buildings. The owned land consists exclusively of bare land with no dwellings or buildings. The land abuts the west bank of the River Severn to the north of Tewkesbury (both the tenanted and owned land).
The landlord has invested nothing in the farm since the present tenant, Ivor Gripe took on the tenancy in 1978. Ivor himself however in his early years invested heavily in field drainage, water supplies, a new dairy unit for 150 cows and a 1,000 tonne grain store. Sadly all this is now showing its age. Ivor has had several warnings about the adequacy of the grain store for the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, the dairy inspector has issued a list of required works which must be undertaken over the next year and the Environment Agency is concerned that silage effluent, slurry and dairy washings may be getting into the river system (albeit on a relatively small scale).
This will require major investment; the absentee landlord has once again affirmed that he has no intention of helping with any of it and, at the age of 67 years Ivor is pondering the economic sense of further investment on which he will recoup little or no return. His son and daughter could, in principle, be eligible for succession to the tenancy but given the economic straits experienced by farmers in recent years it looks increasingly likely that they will seek their fortunes elsewhere (Alison is a veterinary surgeon and Andrew a chartered accountant). Ivor has always reinvested every penny in the farm, which of course is also the family home.
All of the land is registered under the IACS scheme (Integrated Administration and Control Scheme) for SFP (Single Farm Payment) purposes, and Ivor has also entered an Entry Level Stewardship Scheme (ELS). This mainly covers hedgerow management, ponds, protection of a small archaeological site, grassland management for farmland birds.
The following summary of ESS is taken from the TEEB (The Economics of Ecology and Biodiversity) Synthesis Report published in 2010. The full report can be seen on the TEEB Website (link here):
Please do take this opportunity to share your views. For chartered surveyors and others with a professional CPD obligation, time spent working on this could even count as self-directed CPD – evidenced by your considered opinion in the comments below!