Farmers do a lot for Britain’s rural environment, but there is only so much that an individual, acting in isolation, can do on his or her own farm. The Farmer Cluster concept, developed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in association with Natural England, is a plan to help a number of farmers work more cohesively together in their locality, enabling them to collectively deliver greater benefits for soil, water and wildlife at a landscape scale.

A Farmer Cluster is designed to start life at a bottom-up, farmer level, under the guidance of a lead farmer. They devise their own conservation plans, helped by their own chosen conservation advisors, whom they already know and trust. The work is often supplemented by existing agri-environment schemes. Several Clusters have been set up with private sources of funding whereas the majority have applied for the Natural England Facilitation Fund.

The GWCT had seen success in involving farmers nationwide in conservation through the Partridge Count Scheme and by helping to start up the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (NIA), the only farmer-led NIA in the country, so were aware of the potential of bringing farmers together to deliver conservation on a landscape scale.

Farmer Cluster Locations

Key

Blue: established 2017
Yellow: established 2016
Red: established 2015
Green: Northern Flood Management Groups