The importance of agriculture, both in the past and as a current influence on landscape character, historic and natural environments should not be understated. 12017 ha (63%) of the land area of Isle of Wight NL is farmed and the future of its landscapes is linked to the sustainability of farming.

The underlying geology and diversity of landform dictates the suitability for farming practices and has led to a mixed patchwork landscape, traditionally of small-scale farmsteads. This small-scale nature contributes greatly to the character of the Isle of Wight NL but this makes it more of a challenge to achieve economies of scale.

In the 20th Century this led to increased leasing of land to larger scale operators, particularly in relation to arable cultivation. Many smaller farms continue to rely on diversification; however this mix now encompasses activities such as tourism (holiday lets), retail (farm shops) and more recently renewable energy production (bio-fuels). The Isle of Wight NL recognises and supports diversification that enables farmsteads to continue to have farming as their primary activity and where this contributes to the on-going management, conservation and enhancement of the NL landscape.

Farmers and land managers have a major role to play in continuing to conserve and enhance the NL. There is a need to support and encourage sympathetic land management practices for their landscape benefits. This has been partly delivered through agri-environment schemes designed to add landscape, ecological and cultural value predominately through EU funding. Local partners work closely with landowners and farmers to facilitate the maximum benefits for the landscape through advice, guidance, practical help and through the gathering and sharing of information.

FiPL (Farming in Protected Landscapes) Grants

Farmers, landowners, environmental organisations and Parish Councils are invited to apply for grants to support a wide range of countryside projects within the Isle of Wight National Landscape.

Defra have provided the Island with substantial finance to support a wide range of environmental initiatives including climate change (carbon storage and flood risk), improvements for wildlife (creating, managing and connecting habitats), providing people with better access to the countryside, and enhancing the Island’s landscape along with its historic features. To find out more visit the Farming in Protected Landscapes grant page.