ELMs Test and Trial
One of the hottest topics within the land management sector is Defra’s upcoming Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs).
Set for release in 2024, the ELM schemes have the potential to become a key catalyst in successfully attaining the outcomes of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
However, for it to succeed, ELMs must be designed in collaboration with farmers and land managers across the country. It seems clear that the outcome of ELM must be two-fold. We need radical environmental solutions. But we also need to provide those on the ground with the economic, social and technical resources required to increase sustainable food production — no easy task.
Although the schemes will begin in 2024, Defra is currently working with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders. These stakeholders will help to inform best practices for the ELMs.
Over the next few years, these Tests and Trial projects will help our sector understand how the new schemes could work across a range of regions.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (LWT) is currently working on one of these Defra-funded Test and Trials. We caught up with Emma Thomas, an ELMs Test Officer for the LWT, to discuss the progress of their Humberhead Levels land management project.
Emma explained that in the Humberhead Levels the test has “successfully engaged with 24 land managers from across the area”. Working with these interested land managers, LWT is aiming to identify key public goods that could be delivered in the Humberhead Levels area. Emma stressed the importance of land managers working together to achieve this. She stated that “projects such as the Humberhead Levels test are so much more powerful when stakeholders can actively collaborate”.
In the case of the Humberhead Levels, this collaboration is essential, as one of its primary focuses is to address water resource management across the area. “Drainage and ditches don’t just stop at the edge of one farm”, Emma explains, “we need coordinated action to make a difference”.
Using Land App for ELMs
This is where the Land App comes in. LWT was able to create a framework for coordinated action for the Humberhead levels test by using the Land App platform.
The first step in this process was creating bespoke land management plans at the individual farm level on the Land App. As the ELMs Test Officer, Emma worked with each of the 24 landowners to create a best-guess land management plan. These plans outlined the environmental changes the participants wanted to see across their land. Emma stated that this project “could not have taken place without Land App”. There was “no other way to capture all of the ideas and plans of the landowners”.
To find out more about our Land Management Plan Template for ELMs, read our best-practice guide found here.
After creating these land management plans for the Humberhead levels landowners, LWT utilised Land App’s popular ‘Map of Maps’ feature. Map of Maps allowed for all 24 land management plans to be viewed together at the landscape scale. This enabled Emma to track dynamic features, such as the waterways, through the Humberhead levels area. This landscape-scale map also encouraged the landowners to come together and further collaborate on group projects. For some, this was the first time that the landowners had worked together to deliver results with their neighbours.
Finally, the LWT used the Land App to create a bespoke data aggregation dashboard. This dashboard enabled an easy-to-use and tidy summary of key project information, such as land cover percentages. Emma stated that this information would become the central hub for catalysing future project funding and discovery.
Emma pointed out that this Land App framework isn’t just specific to the Humberhead levels test, but could be rolled out across future LWT projects.
However, this isn’t the end of the line for the Humberhead levels test and trial. LWT is now looking to expand its network of land managers in the area and is appealing for more to come forward.
Join the LWT on the 31st of March to discover more about ELMS and Nature’s Recovery in the Humberhead Levels. They’ll be summarising their findings so far, as well as providing advice and information for interested land managers. There will also be a guest presentation from Land App. We will be discussing how key decision-makers within the sector can best utilise mapping and data to achieve landscape uplift.