Team stays together to preserve expertise

Claire Foster, Phil Lyth, Karen Stanley, Ann Hanson.
Claire Foster, Phil Lyth, Karen Stanley, Ann Hanson.
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FORMER FWAG professionals and their supporters have shaped out a way to keep the Yorkshire organisation going and four of its employees in work.

The voluntary side of the former Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group will live on as Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife, a not-for-profit organisation which is looking for members to pay fees like they did to FWAG.

Former North Yorkshire FWAG chairman Nick Ramsden, who farms at Myton on Swale, is working with volunteers from the other Yorkshire FWAG groups on a programme of events and educational activities to be announced in the New Year.

He said: “We are all farmers who are also wildlife enthusiasts.

“We believe we will have a key role in sharing ideas and skills both between farmers and amongst others interested in sustainable rural life. Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife will enthuse farmers about wildlife conservation and caring for the environment, exchanging information within a programme of enjoyable social activities,” he added.

The volunteers will work closely with four of the former full-time FWAG advisers – Phil Lyth, Karen Stanley, Ann Hanson and Claire Foster – who have set up as a partnership of self-employed consultants, the Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife Partnership, available to do the work they were doing before and more.

One former colleague, Marian Wilby, will work on with the Nidderdale AONB organisation and Thirsk office manager Becky Chapman has moved on.

Speaking for the remaining team, Phil Lyth, who joined FWAG in Yorkshire in 1986, said: “We believe farmers need good quality independent environmental advice now more than ever and we are determined to continue to deliver that in Yorkshire. Between us we have a wide range of professional expertise from environmental stewardship schemes, woodland and pond design and wildlife surveys, to advice on manure and nutrient management, from FACTS-qualified specialists. We are looking forward very much to continuing to support Yorkshire farmers with their environmental needs in the future.”

The team will earn their own money in consultancy fees, as they did before, and will not get anything out of subscriptions to the new volunteer organisation. But they will probably offer special rates to members of it.

Their range of services is laid out on the opening page of the new Yorkshire organisation’s new website – at www.farmingandwildlife.net/

Similar ventures are under way in other parts of the country and there is still hope of a new central office.

Paddy Dent of Ribston Farms, who farms 1700 acres north of Wetherby, said in a comment on the launch announcement this week: “The advice I have received from FWAG over the past 20 years on my farm has been invaluable to the business. I intend to use the new Farming and Wildlife Partnership to ensure that we stay up to date with environmental schemes and regulations in the future.”

Keep in touch with the experts

Nick Ramsden – chairman of Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife – can be contacted at mytongrange@farming.co.uk/

Phil Lyth is at phil. lyth@farmingandwildlife.net and 0771 3333 170.

Ann Hanson – ann.hanson@farmingandwildlife.net and 0771 3333 206.

Karen Stanley – karen.stanley@farmingandwildlife.net and 0771 3333 185.

Claire Foster– claire.foster@farmingandwildlife.net and 07827 975703.