Shropshire farmers plant 4,000 trees in anticipation of ELMS changes

Farmers in Shropshire have planted nearly 4,000 native trees after Severn Trent gave out tree-packs at two local events, to test engagement and appetite for tree planting on marginal land.

Dr. Alex Cooke, Severn Trent senior catchment scientist, explained that due to such a high level of take-up from farmers, the water company is now looking into rolling out the scheme to all community members across the whole Severn Trent region.

The firm has a commitment to plant 1.3 million trees by 2030.

Shropshire tree pack event

Farmers took an average of 118 trees each, to plant on non-agricultural or marginal land, to bring a multitude of benefits including:

  • Wildlife habitat creation and connection;
  • Reduced pesticide runoff;
  • Water quantity improvements through flood regulation, reduced runoff and soil erosion;
  • Improved soil quality;
  • Increased resilience to tree disease and climate change.

“The Government’s incoming Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is set to reward farmers for providing environmental benefits, such as those tree planting can bring, and we want to help those in our catchments meet the criteria,” said Dr. Cooke.

However, feedback surveys from the events showed that the majority of farmers in attendance didn’t fully understand the term ‘public goods’, which are a key foundation of ELMS.

The surveys highlighted that 40% of participants only associating the term with improved biodiversity, rather than other benefits such as soil and water quality.

“Therefore, our future tree-pack events, starting this autumn, will provide a knowledge-sharing opportunity to help give farmers the tools and information they need to fully embrace future changes,” she said.