Farming for a Living Landscape

Across the UK, The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners.

A healthy natural environment, where farmland is producing food but also bursting with wildlife, underpins sustainable farming systems. The health of our habitats and soils are linked to the ability of our land to keep sustaining us and producing the food we need to live.

The rise of modern industrial farming methods, particularly following World War II, has mirrored the decline of wildlife in our countryside, particularly species like farmland birds. More recently there have been concerns about the impact of modern pesticides on wild pollinator populations - vital natural services that nature provides.

Farmland covers around 75% of the UK and so working with the farmers and landowners who manage large areas of the countryside and have a direct influence on how wildlife-friendly it is, is essential if we are going to help nature recover and wildlife re-colonise and disperse through our landscapes. We can protect wildlife on our own land (our nature reserves) but working with farmers gives us the opportunity to work for nature at a greater scale in the landscape and to support farmers who want to create a positive change for nature.


  • Manage our own farms
    We own and manage 20 working farms across the UK, from lowland arable to upland hill farms. We use these to demonstrate wildlife-friendly farming methods and several are managed in partnership with local farmers.
  • Advise other farmers and landowners
    Each year Wildlife Trusts provide advice to around 5,000 landowners on how to manage land for wildlife. This often involves helping farmers to access grants and can also involve helping groups of farmers to restore and link habitats at a landscape-scale. Our Farming for A Living Landscape case studies below illustrate this approach.
  • Campaign to improve agriculture policy for wildlife
    Agriculture policy shapes the landscapes around us, and, since the groundbreaking Silsoe Conference in 1969, The Wildlife Trusts have been involved with campaigns to improve environmental conditions of agriculture policy for UK wildlife, particularly around the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). We work together with other environmental organisations on agriculure policy through Wildlife & Countryside Link.


Case studies





FilenameFile size
Case study: Avon's Wildflower Grasslands2.11 MB
Case study: Abbotts Hall Farm2.42 MB
Case study: Conservation grazing2.26 MB
Case study: Gowy and Mersey Washlands2.69 MB
Case study: Lincs Coastal Grazing Marsh851.77 KB
Case study: Lower Smite Farm1.96 MB
Case study: Mendip Hills1.94 MB
Case study: Meres and Mosses1.76 MB
Case study: Nene Valley5.36 MB
Case study: Pastures New951.19 KB
Case study: Vine House Farm2.63 MB
Case study: Working Wetlands6.46 MB

Wildlife-friendly farming

Lower Smite Farm (credit Zoe Stevens)
Lower Smite Farm

Lower Smite Farm is 150 acre working farm managed by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to demonstrate how sensitive farming techniques can improve the quality of the agricultural landscape for wildlife.


A new community farm

Stirley Community Farm

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are redeveloping Stirley Farm as an open access community farm, providing facilities for a great day out as well as an opportunity to learn all about a working farm.


B&B for farmland birds

A newly-installed feeding hopper on a Nottinghamshire farm
Farmland Bird Bed & Breakfast Scheme

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Bed and Breakfast Scheme is currently involved with providing farmers with a feeding hopper to feed farmland bird species in decline and nest boxes for tree sparrows.


A traditional hill farm

Making hay at Gilfach Farm
Gilfach Farm

A traditional Welsh hill farm belonging to the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. The farm is registered as an organic holding and a local farmer works in partnership with the Trust to manage the land for conservation. It is designated SSSI, SPA and SAC.


Conservation-grade farming

A 6m wide field margin at Abbotts Hall Farm
Abbotts Hall Farm

Essex Wildlife Trust  manages Abbotts Hall Farm using modern agronomic practices, whilst also farming with wildlife in mind. As a Conservation Grade producer, the Trust has to leave 10% of the farm’s land as wildlife habitats.