There is a torrent of information on the Defra website at present in connection with sustainable farming standards, including on how land managers can create lakes and ponds to benefit wildlife and improve the landscape.  Defra ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot: environmental outcomes and benefits The 8 standards include one on ‘Water Body Buffering’ will help farmers to create greener landscapes and improve biodiversity. They will promote cleaner air and water, and guard against environmental risks such as climate change and flooding. This Water Body Buffering Briefing includes payment details

‘Water body buffering

Water bodies and the aquatic species they support remain under considerable pressure from sediment, nutrients, pathogens and other contaminants lost from agricultural land.

A highly effective place in the agricultural landscape to target management actions is at the boundary between farmed land and the water body. Water body buffers act as a physical barrier, reducing the risk of agricultural surface runoff reaching water bodies.

In cultivated fields, the strategic placement of in-field grass strips can help to reduce the connectivity of surface runoff pathways by protecting water bodies. Well designed buffers can have multiple benefits, including improved wildlife habitat, creation of wildlife corridors, and resilience to climate change.

Additional shrubs and trees in the riparian zone may also help to shade and cool rivers, increasing resilience to climate change.

Environmental outcomes

Water body buffering will:

  • improve water quality by preventing pollutants, such as excessive nutrients and pesticides, from being transported in surface water run-off
  • maintain and enhance water body habitats for aquatic species by reducing bankside erosion and transport of sediment and faecal indicator organisms (FIOs)
  • maintain and enhance terrestrial habitat for insects, birds and small mammals
  • maintain and improve habitat connectivity, forming links between other habitats and increasing resilience to climate change
  • help to slow the flow of surface water runoff

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