Wildlife-friendly farming is a fairly new concept taking rural communities by storm, championed by forward-thinking farmers and organisations like Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

The core belief is that sustainable farming systems can only work when the natural environment is nourished and healthy, where farmland is not only producing high yields of food, but also providing a habitat for our wildlife.

The health of our habitats and soils are directly linked to the land’s ability to sustain us and produce the food we need to live; protecting wildlife is not an option, but an essential part of Britain’s farming future. Whether it’s reducing dependency on pesticides, building owl boxes or allowing field boundaries to grow wild, more and more farmers are working together with nature to create a sustainable future for their industry.

One of the ways in which wildlife-friendly farming has thrived in Hampshire is through conservation grazing, a scheme familiar with dog walkers and joggers who may have spotted livestock roaming freely around their local green spaces. Conservation grazing involves using native breeds of cows and sheep, many of which are considered rare breeds themselves, to graze habitats like chalk downland, salt marshes, acid grasslands, fen, heathland and wood pasture, maintaining these habitats in a non-intensive, wildlife-friendly way while also feeding the livestock that graze there.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust now graze over 40 separate pieces of land throughout the county, such as nature reserves and private land whose owners want to improve it for wildlife, such as local authorities and other NGOs like Butterfly Conservation.

The benefits of conservation grazing are numerous; as livestock chomp on the grasses, shrubs and scrub slowly through the year, it means grasses are kept down as if they had been mown, but insects, nesting birds and wildflowers are able to complete their life cycles without being hoovered up by a mower. Other benefits include increased biodiversity from dung, varying levels of soil exposure which is fantastic for insects, and the production of high welfare meat.

Supporting Wildlife-Friendly Farming

Keep dogs on leads

Please keep dogs on leads when near livestock, for their own protection as well as the livestock’s

Buy local produce

Try to buy your meat and dairy from local and organic farmers with native breeds

Join the Hampshire Wildlife Trust

Your membership fee will support wildlife-friendly farming across the county - find out more at www.hiwwt.org.uk/conservation-grazing