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For the past 25 years, many local farmers have become wildlife champions and have helped some of our most threatened species by providing food and shelter.
Using payments for wildlife-friendly farming – known as agri-environment schemes – some of these ‘champions’ have reversed population crashes of those species most in trouble and some species, now largely depend on wildlife-friendly farmers for their future survival in the UK.
But just as we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of these schemes and their achievements, the President of the European Union Council is proposing to slash their budget by as much as 20 per cent.
This could have a devastating effect on the future of our local countryside wildlife. Many species are still suffering population declines and our farmers can only help them if they are given the right resources.
Later this week, David Cameron will be discussing the future EU budget with other heads of state. Anyone who cares about nature can help protect wildlife-friendly farming schemes by emailing Mr Cameron ahead of the meeting (via rspb.org.uk/steppingup) and urging him to invest in the future of our rural wildlife.
Amanda Miller, RSPB conservation manager for northern England.