SoNaRR2020: Enclosed farmland

This chapter assesses the progress towards the sustainable management of natural resources in the enclosed farmland ecosystem

Enclosed farmland comprises the improved and semi-improved agricultural land in Wales that is surrounded by field boundaries. This ecosystem covers 54% of Wales. The main part is grassland improved by agriculture. The ecosystem is managed mostly for food production, in particular the production of livestock for meat and milk.

Enclosed farmland is an intensively managed ecosystem with small areas of high biodiversity value such as:

  • Hedgerows
  • Traditional orchards
  • Wood pasture
  • Parkland
  • Extensively managed arable land

Agricultural productivity has remained relatively stable for the last two decades. The provision of food has negative impacts on other ecosystem services. Ammonia emissions and nutrient run-off have the potential to cause pollution to land, water and air. This, along with the planting of crops and species-poor grassland, causes the loss of native biodiversity.

Agriculture faces a major challenge in reducing its contribution to climate change. It needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has a role to play in storing carbon.

More efficient use of nutrients at field, farm and catchment scales could reduce diffuse pollution and improve soil condition without affecting the amount of food production. However, system changes to current agricultural practices are required to fully address both the nature and climate emergencies.

What's available now

The headline messages, through the pressures, impacts and opportunities for action are summarised in the appropriate natural resource register.

What's coming in March 2021

The full chapter will follow in March 2021.

This chapter will explore the current condition of productive agricultural land in Wales. It will look at what can be done to improve ecosystem resilience and services. Actions that include diversifying the land, managing soils and nutrients and using innovative, sustainable farming practices can both improve productivity and safeguard the environment.

A description of additional evidence needed for the assessment will also be published.