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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 07:04 GMT
Growing deal for 'green' farms
sheep pic
Tir Gofal is targeting ordinary farms across Wales
Farmers are steadily quitting using intensive farming methods and returning to traditional ways of working the land.

Thousands have already signed up to the Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme and hundreds more this year will receive a share of a 16m budget.

Skylark (RSPB)
Country image: Skylarks were a common sight

On Tuesday, Assembly Members are to call on the Welsh Assembly Government to increase its support for the scheme in the coming years.

The move coincides with plans by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) to conduct a survey to see if wildlife really does benefit from farms taking part in Tir Gofal.

The CCW will be eager to discover if such projects can encourage the return of linnets, skylarks and yellowhammers - once a common sight in Wales.

Under the initiative, farmers get money for reducing the number of sheep on their land, which in turn reduces the need for fertilisers.

There is also grant aid for hedge laying - which provides habitat for bird life and other mammals - and footpath maintenance.

Mike German, Rural Affairs Minister
Mike German: Backing for Tir Gofal

AMs are due to hear calls for the Tir Gofal scheme to be extended, which are likely to be backed by Assembly Rural Affairs Minister Mike German.

A farmer from mid Wales was one of the first to take up the project, which began in April 1999 and has received support from the European Commission.

The first Tir Gofal scheme agreement was signed with Bedlwyncoch Farm, near Sennybridge, south Wales, run by beef and sheep farmer Dyfrig Davies.

Mr Davies planted new areas of deciduous trees, to create "buffer zones" next to streams and rivers and has restored hedgerows and historic features on his land.

He received 4,000 towards land management in the first year and overall will receive a total of 20,000 over a five-year period to create a "greener" farm.

Hundreds of such agreements have been signed each year to transform farms from intensive style techniques to work with nature.

See also:

01 Nov 99 | Wales
14 Mar 00 | Wales
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