Upland farming management challenges in focus at Newton Rigg College event

As CAP proposals herald a reshaping of our upland areas, a high-profile conference will look at the challenges this could thow up. Jo Blakemore previews the event

John Rowland, manager Low Beckside Farm, Newton Rigg College at work in the uplands
John Rowland, manager Low Beckside Farm, Newton Rigg College at work in the uplands

A national conference discussing issues and challenges around managing the country's uplands takes place next month.

Set against a backdrop of current consultation across the UK on proposals which could see CAP payments reshape our uplands, the conference provides a forum for debate on the many different and sometimes conflicting elements which have an interest in the uplands of England, Scotland and Wales.

Future Upland Management: Balancing environmental, social and economic demands, takes place at Newton Rigg College, Penrith, on May 13 and 14.

It is being organised by the National Centre for the Uplands based at the college. Newton Rigg is part of Askham Bryan College and is the only UK college to have its own upland farm, grouse moor and to run a specialist degree course in uplands agriculture with land management.

Students use the farm and moor as a resource to study a range of subjects including agriculture, land management, forestry, countryside and game management.

Douglas Phillips, who leads the National Centre for the Uplands, which focuses on skills, education and demonstration, said: “The conference could not come at a more opportune moment, as policymakers across the UK look to finalise changes regarding the redistribution of CAP funds.

“This could have a huge impact on how we manage our uplands and on the rural communities that rely upon them economically. It will doubtless be a lively and informative two days, given the diverse range of speakers.

“Our aim is to provide an opportunity for debate that will increase awareness of the different perspectives and thus encourage greater understanding and co-operation.

“We need to ensure that we builda vibrant and sustainable upland economy based on agriculture and positive land management thatwill ultimately protect some of the most vulnerable and precious landscapes in the United Kingdom for future generations.”

The National Centre for the Uplands, supported financially by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, has three objectives:

To deliver excellence in education and training for the uplands.

To demonstrate and disseminate best practice and research.

Through partnership, provide a platform for dialogue and debate on upland issues.


Tuesday, May 13

Mike Rowe, deputy director, Defra – Balancing environmental and agricultural demands.

Drew Sloan, chief agricultural officer for Scotland – The future of upland agriculture in Scotland.

Richard Ali, chief executive of the British Association of Shooting and Conservation – Wildlife management, environment, income and employment.

Robert Sullivan, partner, farming development, Strutt & Parker – How CAP reform will shape the uplands.

Neil Hesseltine, farmer, Hill Top Farm, Malham, North Yorkshire – Case study: grazing native breeds, our experiences in Malham.

Wednesday, May 14

Dame Helen Ghosh, director-general, the National Trust – The role of the uplands in the National Trust’s vision for the English and Welsh countryside.

Liz Philip, principal of Askham Bryan College – The challenges of rural education in the uplands and the benefits it can bring.

Phil Stocker, chief executive, National Sheep Association– The future for upland sheep production.

Neville Elstone, chartered forester, Cumbria Woodlands, and former Newton Rigg College student – Profitable and productive upland afforestation.

Dr Gareth Clay, lecturer in physical geography, University of Manchester – Upland peat restoration: challenges and impact.

Professor Robin Pakeman, professor of ecological science, James Hutton Institute – The role of grazing in the ecology of the uplands.

Richard Leafe, chief executive, Lake District National Park Authority – What our park users want to see.

Mark Avery, former conservation director, RSPB – Judging the balance between iconic birds and commercial land use.


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