The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme needs to be 'simple and flexible' as agriculture is the 'heart of all activity' in such areas, the NFU has said.
The government has published new proposals to create and improve protected landscapes across England.
The plans include funding to support farmers in projects such as improving public access, creating ponds and reducing carbon emissions and plastic use on farms.
Meanwhile, two of England’s most iconic landscapes are being considered to become new Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), alongside extensions to the Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs.
The Yorkshire Wolds and the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge have been put forward to be recognised as protected areas and all four areas will now be formally considered for ‘AONB’ status by Natural England. There are currently 34 AONBs in England and 10 National Parks.
Responding to the announcement, NFU environment forum chair Richard Bramley said farming was at the 'heart of all activity' in protected areas.
“The NFU will work with Natural England and consult with our members on the four areas being considered for new or extended AONB status, making sure that viable farm businesses are at the heart of the decision-making process so that our work to protect and enhance our valuable landscapes," he said.
“Whether it is incentives to improve public access, manage bigger hedgerows, plant more trees, or conserve carbon through the soil, we do need to see government policies that work together to support the delivery of agriculture’s net-zero ambition and to ensure we have farmed landscapes that can both feed the nation and thrive with wildlife.”
The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers in a National Park or AONB in England or the Norfolk Broads.
Farmers are encouraged to apply from 1 July. The scheme will be operated by the National Parks and AONB teams and supported by Natural England.
The programme will fund projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change and support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.
It will run from July 2021 to March 2024.