This Final Report and Appendices have been submitted to Defra.
The Kent Downs AONB unit is helping Defra design the new Environmental Land Management Scheme. We ran three Tests and Trials covering Viticulture (grape-growing), Accessibility, and Natural Flood Management and invited farmers and landowners to participate and help co-design them. The evidence and recommendations from these Tests and Trials were submitted to Defra in 2021 and will help shape the way payments are made to farmers and landowners from 2024 onwards.
Over the last 15-years there has been a significant increase in vineyard area in the UK of more than 300% to over 700 vineyards covering circa 3500 hectares (ha). Now there are 36 vineyards in the Kent Downs AONB (or in the setting).
This increase represents one of the most remarkable successes of land use diversification and rural enterprise in the UK in recent decades. Underpinned by climate change and supported by investment, training and recognition for high-quality wine production, the sector looks set for further expansion.
Beyond benefits to rural economies viticulture and wine production offer opportunities for greater ecosystem services net gains. Vineyards have excellent potential to deliver public goods because the actual land area within a vineyard that is planted with vines is only circa 15–20% of the total area.
However, vineyards also affect landscape character and the environment, and have potential for harm within protected landscapes. Scale and location is a major factor for the integration of vineyards, particularly in open Downland. Where contained by rolling topography, woodland blocks and field boundary hedgerows – all elements characteristic of much of the AONB – their integration is far more successful. The tipping point, in terms of scale and impact, remains unquantified and requires a landscape capacity assessment.
Opportunities for vineyards to enhance public goods through an increase in biodiversity (thriving wildlife and plants), mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and the delivery of beauty, heritage and engagement are significant.
This short study assesses key Landscape Character Type impacts from viticulture and opportunities for mitigation, and it sets the context and background to evaluating where public goods could be enhanced.
Viticulture Test and Trial Final Report
We’re delighted to be working with expert consultants in both nature conservation and viticulture
The Kent Downs AONB unit is helping Defra design the new Environmental Land Management Scheme. We are running three Tests and Trials covering Viticulture, Accessibility, and Natural Flood Management and are inviting farmers and landowners to participate and help co-design them. The evidence and recommendations from these Tests and Trials will be submitted to Defra in 2021 and will help shape the way payments are made to farmers and landowners from 2024 onwards.
In recognition of the increasing area of vineyards in South East England, this project will identify how ELM Land Management Plans can be developed to reflect the environmental needs and opportunities arising from the wine-growing sector in the Kent Downs
- What is best environmental practice for vineyards and how can this be incentivised?
- Are there existing schemes that can be used as the basis for an ELM intervention?
Locations: Anywhere within the Kent Downs AONB, Surrey Hills AONB or the South Downs National Park. We would also like to hear from others that are within the setting of these places (within a few miles of the border)
How can farmers and landowners get involved?
This is an excellent opportunity for farmers and landowners to influence the shape of the reports and recommendations that we submit to Defra. If they become involved in the scheme, we will pay a rate of £200 per day.
What is involved?
We will be holding up to three meetings for each of the Tests and Trials (these are online at the moment) that we would like participants to attend. There will also be 1 to 1 meetings to talk about specific issues at a farm level. We will also send draft reports to participants to get their feedback and opinions. Most importantly, we want ideas about what ELM interventions should look like, what rates of compensation would make them attractive to farmers and how they should be administered.
Who should I contact if I want to be involved?
If you are interested in becoming involved in any of these Tests and Trials please contact Mike Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01227 652126.