Wyescapes; Food, Nature, Water

The Wyescapes project has been successful at the initial application stage to access a two year development phase for DEFRA’s Landscape Recovery scheme.

What is Landscape Recovery?

Landscape Recovery is the name given to the most ambitious element DEFRA’s Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs). Unlike the other elements of ELMs, Landscape Recovery brings together groups of land managers to deliver landscape scale enhancement.
This acceptance launches Wyescapes in to a 2 year Development Stage, beginning in spring 2024 to:
– Agree with each participating land manager the changes they would like to deliver,
– Undertake baseline surveys for nutrients, carbon and biodiversity for the land included in the scheme,
– Identify and secure private finance commitments to match the DEFRA funding, and
– Develop legal agreements to secure delivery and funding over the following 20 year period.
Once those steps are completed a 20 year implementation phase would then begin.

Who is involved?

The project currently involves 36 land managers covering 4500 hectares along the river corridor, spanning the county of Herefordshire from north to south.

The project is led by ourselves at Herefordshire Rural Hub and has been built in partnership with Wye Valley National Landscape, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire Meadows. 

Why “Wyescapes”?

The River Wye and its catchment together create an iconic landscape, hugely important for nature due to its wide range of rare river wildlife, loved by people and important for food production. In 2010 the River Wye was voted the nation’s favourite river, described as “magical and timeless” but since 2020, TV programmes, celebrities and communities have been decrying the polluted and degraded state of the river. Earlier this year, both the River Wye and River Lugg had their status downgraded by Natural England to ‘unfavourable – declining’ due to declines in declines in Atlantic salmon, white-clawed crayfish and aquatic plants.

The Wyescapes project is happening on a huge scale, initially focusing on a core area of the floodplain, but with scope to widen to an even larger area. Farmers and land managers will be supported by the partners to take actions to restore the rivers’ health such as reducing nutrient use, reverting some fields from arable cropping to grassland, creating new wetlands, floodplain meadows and woodlands.

The project’s aim is to restore the Wye catchment to a healthy condition, so its rivers and their tributaries can support the unique wildlife that depends on them, provide clean and plentiful water, be resilient to climate change, mitigate flood risk, provide places for people to enjoy – all while supporting sustainable food production.


Want to get involved?

During 2024 it will be possible for other land managers farming in the floodplains of the Wye, Lugg & Arrow to get involved in the scheme. If you would like to do so please contact us via director@herefordshireruralhub.co.uk 

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