It is disappointing that we have lost more than 90 per cent of our meadows over the last 100 years. I am therefore pleased that the Government is taking action to reverse those losses by managing designated sites, providing incentives for habitat management and creation, and forging strong partnerships with landowners, communities and conservation bodies.
The Agricultural Transition Plan sets out the path to an ambitious new agricultural system which will reward farmers and land managers for the work they do to look after and enhance our environment. Ministers are introducing three schemes that will reward the delivery of environmental benefits: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme, and the Landscape Recovery scheme. These schemes will pay for sustainable farming practices, creating and preserving habitat such as species-rich grassland, and making landscape-scale environmental changes.
Later this year, ministers will pilot the initial land management actions under the Sustainable Farming Incentive. These include an improved grassland standard which will help increase biodiversity and resilience to climate change, improve soil condition and carbon storage, and improve water and air quality, as well as an improved grassland soils standard which will be paid out to farmers who maintain and improve the condition and structure of their soil to promote clean water and improve climate resilience, biodiversity and food production.
Finally, across the country, the Government is investing in protecting, restoring and recovering wildlife-rich habitats and species. The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out plans for nature recovery and Ministers have invested £80 million through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to help charities and environmental organisations start work on conservation projects across England. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030 and ministers have amended the Environment Bill to require a historic, new legally binding target on species abundance for 2030 with the aim of halting the decline of nature in England.