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23 Aug 2022

Building a network of environmental advisers

As featured in Arable Farming Magazine

Building a network of environmental advisers

by Arable Farming Magazine July 2022 issue

BASIS plans to offer a public, online directory of environmental advisers.

A new professional membership for environmental advisers opened for business on June 1, 2022, not only to support professional standards in this increasingly important area, but also to build a network of experience, knowledge and expertise among those involved.

Since the new register was announced in Oxford in January (Arable Farming, February 2022) there has been considerable interest from a diverse range of individuals and organisations.

These include agri-environment advisers, consultants and farmers, but also water companies and wildlife organisations.

All recognise the increasing importance of addressing environmental issues in the landscape.

Details of the scheme have been developed by a cross-industry steering group representing advisers, environmental organisations, consultants, agronomists and public bodies.

The groups members include AICC, BASIS, Brown and Co, Defra, Hutchinsons, Plantlife, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Trusts.

BASIS head of environment Teresa Meadows says: Our overall objective is to build a network of advisers offering a consistent quality of professional advice to farmers and land managers looking to address the twin challenges of utilising measures to benefit the environment while continuing to farm profitably.

As with other BASIS registers, continuing professional development is an important feature.

Environmental Land Management is currently developing apace as the UK and devolved governments develop policies and funding schemes to encourage environmental improvement, adds Ms Meadows.

Networking Just as important is to provide networking opportunities so that advisers can share experiences, develop broader landscape projects and call on the specialist knowledge of other register members.

Advisers on the new register will bring a wealth of different expertise that will encompass issues such as forestry and the historic environment as well as the more usual expertise in soils, nutrition and agronomy, says Ms Meadows.

To facilitate networking, BASIS plans to have a public, online directory of register members.

This will include the region they operate in and the area of experience they can offer.

The directory will also enable farmers and landowners to find advisers to help them develop their environmental plans and achieve their objectives.

Initially, there are two entry routes to the register for advisers.

First, individuals who achieve the BASIS BETA Conservation Management qualification are eligible to apply.

Also, until December 2023, advisers who already have significant experience in the relevant subject areas can apply for ‘acquired rights, demonstrating their knowledge through their role and by undertaking an online assessment of multiple choice questions.

With all UK governments putting increased emphasis on environmental benefits and reducing direct support for production, environmental advice will be as important to the bottom line of any land based business as the correct spray or crop nutrient, adds Ms Meadows.

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