For centuries the Greater Thames Marshes have been shaped by those who work on and manage the land

(c) Andy Hay/RSPB
(c) Andy Hay

for agriculture. This provides the ideal opportunity to work with the local farming community to support biodiversity conservation initiatives.

We have learnt from previous experience that face-to-face advice delivers the best results, and so the NIA has funded a Farm Conservation Adviser to work with a network of volunteers within the land management community. Here’s what our NIA Farm Conservation Adviser has to say:

“There are many important habitats and species dependent on both livestock and arable farming within the Greater Thames Marshes. My role is to provide free site-specific biodiversity advice and support to those within Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements. In particular my focus is on grassland options for breeding waders.

One of the most exciting parts of this project will building relationships with local farmers. Farmers deserve recognition over the positive contribution they make to the country’s wildlife, and this is a unique opportunity for them to have their say on how we can work together to manage land better.”

Farm Focus Groups

The NIA will actively promote open floor discussions regarding important issues such as predation, grazing regimes and managing water levels. During the first phase of this project we held a series of “Farm Focus Groups” – the reports from these groups can be read here:

We have now moved toward a more informal process of discussing current issues that farmers are facing, particularly in North Kent. If you would like to share lessons learnt, access training or get support regarding how to deliver nature conservation alongside agricultural practices, then get in touch with our Farm Conservation Adviser, Les Edwin by emailing

May 2013 Farm Focus Group (c) Jo Sampson

We hope that through this process we can use the NIA as a building block to sustainable land management practices, supported by a fully functioning agri-environment scheme.