Blogger: Simon Tonkin, RSPB Senior Conservation Officer

Andrew and Allison Bond are brilliant examples of wildlife friendly farmers, and like their namesake, 007, they too are heroes, in their own, understated, way. 

Whilst they are not seen in pursuit of baddies across the vistas of iconic cities, their ideals and actions are just as heroic as any Bond plot line.  Andrew and Allison Bond are protecting the very foundation of our day to day life – our environment, and with it, some of our most cherished countryside wildlife.

They’ve seen declining species such as turtle doves, lapwings and corn buntings come back to the farm together with fields full of butterflies, all as a result of taking the time and effort to manage their farmland to create a home for nature.

But like any hero, they have battles to fight.  It costs money to manage their land for wildlife, and it often requires them to keep some of their land out of production. 

As their work results in significant public benefit, it receives a public payment through the Common Agricultural Policy via Europe known as ‘agri-environment schemes’.

But recent changes to these schemes have resulted in less money for protecting wildlife.

RSPB together with our Birdlife partners across Europe continue to campaign tirelessly to get a fairer policy for farmers, wildlife and the taxpayer. We do have some possible saving grace for those doomed turtle doves or farmland butterflies through a process called modulation. Modulation is where a member state has the option of transferring up some of the funds from other areas of the Common Agricultural Policy that are widely recognised as wasteful and inefficient to the far more beneficial agri-environment schemes that pay for wildlife friendly farming. It is not about more money from tax payers, its just about being more sensible about how you spend the money available, and as a UK tax-payer, I know where I’d rather my money went!

Farmers like Andrew and Allison Bond farm with wildlife in mind because they want to, but also because they can afford to, thanks to agri-environment funding.  However, when their scheme comes to an end, and without modulation, they may not be able to continue this great work and the tumbling lapwings, purring turtle doves and fluttering fields full of butterflies that now call Bryher Beef Farm home will be homeless.

Like James Bond, all heroes need a little bit of help.  As well as being saved in the nick of time by some pretty innovative gadgets created by Q, 007 is at liberty to drop in for a bit of help from the British Government.  And that's exactly what Allison and Andrew Bond decided to do last week, when farmers from across the UK got together and went to Westminster to share their concerns with their MPs.

In addition to this, Local MP Douglas Carswell, visited The Bond’s Bryher Beef Farm recently and recognised the importance of the work on the farm.  He is supportive of more funds for agri-environment schemes being made through transferring of the funds and has promised to write to the environment minister supporting this view.

Agriculture holds such dominance in our European landscape and the Common Agricultural Policy is of pivotal importance for our farm wildlife.  You can help by:

Showing the government that you care about farmland wildlife by taking part in the RSPB poll. (It takes just 5 seconds to complete and will make a huge difference)

Writing to your MP to ask that they support wildlife friendly farmers.

If you’d like to understand modulation in more detail, check out Martin Harper's Blog.