Exmoor Ponies in Conservation Newsletter

Issue 2 Article 15

Grants

English Nature is helping to support habitat management strategy through the Species Recovery Grant and Species Action Grant schemes. Perhaps if graziers are able to show exactly how the ponies are helping to create specific habitats to conserve the endangered species on the EN list, some help may come their way to assist with the maintenance of this useful conservation management tool!

Contact English Nature Enquiry Service 01733 455100

European Grants

Extract from a letter from the Minister of Agriculture about the question of European grants for endangered species in agriculture received in response to a letter sent to Tony Cunningham, the local MEP.

…………..The EU agri-environment regulation (2078/92) sets the framework within which the UK’s agri-environment programme is implemented and contains provision for an aid scheme “to rear animals of local breeds in danger of extinction”, provided that there are positive effects on the environment and countryside. This measure is not intended for the protection of rare breeds per se, but is linked to the environmental benefit of farming systems associated with particular breeds. Payments should therefore reflect agricultural income forgone. The EU co-finances such schemes, at a rate of 50% for most of England.

As Mr Mackintosh notes, in its report on Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA’s) and other agri-environment schemes, published in March 1997, the House of Commons Agriculture Committee considered whether there should be a UK scheme to preserve rare breeds. The Committee noted that no such scheme existed at the time and recommended that MAFF should undertake a consultation exercise to determine the level of support for the inclusion of aid to preserve rare breeds in its agri-environment programme.

As a result of this recommendation I consulted the National Agri-Environment Forum, which brings together representatives from farming, countryside and environmental organisations, about the possibility of using the provisions of the agri-environmental regulation to aid the preservation of rare breeds in England. I have also had a useful discussion with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. I am awaiting a paper from the World Wide Fund for Nature – UK (WWF - UK) on agricultural use of rare breeds and the implications for nature conservation. WWF -–UK expect to publish their paper within the next month or so.

Any decision on future aid for rare breeds will be made in the light of these consultations, taking account of the resources available and our commitment to other elements of the agri-environment programme. We will of course consider the case for including the Exmoor Pony in any such provisions. The value of the breed for conservation management is widely recognised.

by ELLIOT MORLEY