• Harriet Bell

At their virtual meeting on the 16th of July the Dartmoor farmer led Advisory Team, supporting the test and trial, came to a decision about the best Land Management Plan approach for Dartmoor. This is how farmers indicate what public goods they'll be delivering on their land in order to support payment.

The team went for a farmer led mapping approach, with an accompanying scorecard system, supported by advice. So now we need to work through each of these elements to develop the detail.

These are the notes from the first Advisory Team discussion on scorecards which took place on Thursday 30th July.

Prior to the meeting the team were given two questions to reflect on:

Q1 - Do people see the scorecard as a tool to inform decision making, like the Public Goods tool that’s previously been presented, or do people see using a scorecard as essentially saying that all of ELMs should be delivered on a “Payments by Results” basis?

A project paper on payments by results was circulated to accompany this question (and is also available on the website,) in order help people distinguish between the options posed by the question as they determined their answer.

Q2 - Do people want a scorecard created from scratch or would people prefer to take an existing model and adapt it?

Conclusion from the discussion:

In response to the first question the Advisory Team decided they wished to merge two of the Dartmoor Test & Trials research strands, "Land Management Plan" and "Payments by results", into one - an approach to delivering the whole of ELMs entirely through a (likely hybrid) payments by results approach. However, it has been re-christened as a "Payments by past and present results" approach in order to emphasize that existing public goods, present on farms, should be valued.

In response to the second question the Advisory Team will look at using an existing public goods scorecard and adapting/altering it to ensure it works appropriately for Dartmoor/Uplands farming.

Advisory Team discussion notes:

  • So I had a flick through the public goods tool, power point. I think that the key thing we’ve all been discussing is that every farm is different and every part of Dartmoor is different. Pin pointing outcomes isn’t necessarily going to be particularly good for business or the environment. However a scorecard could be a tool to help tweak and improve but I don’t think we can pay on just the scorecard but on a blend of options. I do think the spatial one is really interesting as a tool to see potential opportunities and strengths. With the aid of an advisor it could be really good. If there’s a possibility of that tool helping non-ELMs related areas of the wider business then we may as well stick it in an use it.

  • The scorecard is a way of acquiring points for whatever you’re doing and I’m happy enough to be paid on that basis because it encourages that work. I liked the public goods tool and the way it easily depicted the outcomes.

  • I’m looking at this possibly too simplistically. Our biggest single issue at the moment is trying to create something which suits all across the national park, simple and understandable. The scorecard system lends itself, I don’t think we’ve necessarily been looking at the right ones, I think they should portray a range of options within the farm system with payments for different levels and a premium payment at the top. The scorecard system certainly looks to be the right way forward, the land management plan falls within that, there has to be a plan specific to an area which delivers what’s best for that area. That plan should be placed within a scorecard system that enables farmers to make a science and commercial based decision. That’s hugely complex and requires an awful lot of time and effort and resource but is probably the most simple to operate. We can’t sit around tonight and do that. Ideally if there’s something on the shelf take it off the shelf and test it in a Dartmoor context. I would be happy for my whole payment to be delivered through a scorecard based approach.

  • Looking at the Hen Harrier Project they use three ways to pay, even though it’s a PBR approach. They score on different habitat types so those models are there for us to use.

  • Thinking about the things we do know, we do know what the public goods are. I feel slightly blind folded because I don’t know what the specific problem is we’re supposed to tackle to I don’t know how to get my brain in gear to approach that. If there’s been work done like the Hen Harrier Project then you know it will deliver the other public goods in order to deliver that. So that sort of thing is great to be able to take things from.

  • I thought for a minute we were on the right track but I think as soon as we start talking about the public goods and what they get paid for but the first 4/5 steps of the scorecard for me are about us being here and what we’ve got and our years of past work in past schemes and the value of what we’re currently delivering. Having a Land Management Plan could be a step in the process, public goods could be level 5/6/7 that recognise the costs and commitment of delivering that, 7/8/9 tier 2 and 9/10 tier 3. So we’re doing something to include people in the process and then keep them going in the process. None of our farms are the same but they have common elements like being pasture based systems but how we achieve what we’re going to achieve we can do in different ways. If anyone wants to go beyond that they can take it beyond that and have it assessed. If we’re making a genuine effort, it can be a very slow process to deliver change so we need to recognise what we’re doing in order to establish a core payment. I know what I’m doing, I know how I’m doing it and I know what I want to see out there. Your assessor might decide that there’s something on your farm you could do a bit different and their advice might raise you one bar up the ladder and increase your payment a bit. I don’t agree about the points because the points system we tried in previous schemes and being a few points short can be very frustrating. I don’t think we should get caught up in the minutiae. I’m happy to be assessed I don’t want to be measured. Once you’ve got that list of things you can do, decide what you can deliver and how you can deliver it and attribute the public goods to what you’re doing.

  • I agree with about we’ll get to the public goods but too delivery in a different way. Trying to simplify it the easiest thing would be to draw all the public goods scorecards together and pick a couple to try.

  • Following on from the point around the scorecards I think payment by results is right but there has to be provision for capital works and a bonus for good results wrapped up. We need a broad-church for delivering public goods. Ultimately we’re turkeys voting for Christmas we have a system that has been entirely geared towards production and now we’re in a situation of change where our livelihoods are at risk and we need to get this right. It’s going to be a huge challenge getting it right. I would envision all of us here being on at least 4/5 to 9/10 on a scorecard system and the opportunity there is to evolve our model according to what suits our farming business. It’s about a transparent and robust system which delivers for us all, including the ability to educate our customers about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The scope of looking for where scorecards exist should be an extensive trawl in order to combine the very best.

  • Picking up on a few points. I think it is really important that there is payment there for capital works, I think I’m very nervous about anything which is dependent on species turning up. The Hen Harrier one is interesting because that’s a bonus for the species turning up. I think what’s important is the proportion of money attributed to different levels within a scorecard. I’m a fan of what they’ve done in the Burren and in Ireland generally. The framework that they use in Ireland seems to work for a variety of different models so I for one would be in favour of looking at their approach.

  • Just a couple of observations about the Burren which was that their scheme was very popular with the farmers. However, I don’t think we should be afraid of creating our own because Dartmoor is distinct. I think one off the most important things should be that if you’re in an LFA that is valued and we need to revisit and remind Defra how crucial and important the LFA area is. We don’t have the wherewithal to change what we do like the lowland guys have, we’re stuck with what our land can produce so we need to remind them all how important LFA is.

  • I think you can still have levels 1 to 10 for anywhere in the UK, you’d just be scoring on different attributes.

  • I’m just going to point out that Ireland has a very different tenancy structure. Also results are not always in our power to give so maintenance is important.

  • It is imperative that we create an upland specific scorecard but we need to choose the items which we can be scored against. We need to choose what works for us. I liked the idea of measuring lower down the food chain, things like the dung beetle. A blank scorecard with items selected for your farm and list them yourself but then you’re moving away from something that’s universally acceptable. What maters is they have to work for the uplands.

  • The Burren may not be perfect it’s just a starting point. An important part of results is direction of travel, which can take 5, 10, 15 years but payments so we need to recognise the direction of travel.

  • In speaking to some of the farmers I think it’s really important that in talking payments by results we make it clear that it’s not just new results, that it will value past results as well.

  • All of the Irish schemes there is no requirement to move up the scheme.

  • Harriet Bell

The Dartmoor ELMs Tests & Trial has four key research objectives:

  1. Develop a blueprint for Land Management Plans with a specific focus on the commons

  2. Develop and trial a 'payment by results' approach that could operate on commons as well as 'home' farms

  3. Explore the role that National Park Authorities could play in shaping, facilitating and delivering ELMs

  4. Explore how private finance and other forms of environmental net gain could be incorporated into ELMs at a local level

This paper is to introduce payments by results as we start to consider how to incorporate it into the Dartmoor Test and Trial.

Results Based Agri-environmental Payment Schemes (RBAPS)

or “Payment by results”

Introduction to “Payment by Results”

The phrase payments by results (PBR) is fairly self-explanatory, essentially it describes a system whereby farmers are financially rewarded not on a base or area basis and not for delivering prescribed management options but for achieving or making progress towards defined environmental results in the way they manage their land. Payments by results approaches don’t require prescriptions how those results are to be achieved, although they offer guidance. They empower farmers and land managers to determine what actions they take to deliver the desired outcomes and they’re then rewarded for the work undertaken.

Results based payments are considered to work particularly well for extensive farming, recognizing the environmental benefits of the system.

To date improving biodiversity, particularly targeting rare or threatened species or habitats has generally been the focus of payment by results trials. They can be used to spatially target enhancement or specific features, alternatively they may be used to economically incentivize the continuation of current management practice rather than either the abandonment of active farming or conversion to another form of land use, such as forestry.

Many of the existing payments by results projects have focused on species and habitats that are also found on Dartmoor, such as wading birds, ground nesting birds, the Marsh Fritillary butterfly, semi-natural grasslands and hay meadows.

Summary of the Pros and Cons


  • Considered to be an approach which recognises farmer’s land management skills and builds on their experience to develop solutions and best practice management approaches, rather than have management prescribed at a national level.

  • The hope is also that payment results based around achievement will provide motivation to do more and deliver better outcomes.

  • Often relies on farmer self-assessment

  • Ongoing evaluation of whether or not the scheme itself is working well.

  • Clear performance monitoring criteria and scheme objectives.

  • The use of hybrid payment by results schemes to provide farmers with greater income stability.


  • On moorland securing change may take many years so moving towards an outcome may have to be sufficient to enable rewards to be paid. This might require more sophisticated targets and some that are based on activity rather than outcome. This then has the potential to be a more prescriptive approach.

  • High risk for farmers if mitigation is not made for the potential impact of factors outside of farmer control e.g. wild fire, visitor impact, drought etc.

  • The challenge of identifying appropriate and robust targets.

  • Potential loss of payment for poor performance under a pure payments by results scheme.

  • How does the scheme ensure distribution of payment (or penalty) between commoners is fair?

How do you determine which results to pay for?

Arguably one could use this approach to address a range of desired land management outputs. The RBAPS General Guidance Handbook (RBAPS GH01) proposes PBR is best used in addition to more basic land management prescriptions, covered by generic management schemes, to provide further support for areas which have a qualifying biodiversity interest, either species or habitat. Essentially PBR should be seen as additional funding to incentivize delivery of higher level, more targeted objectives.

The RBPAS GH01 key advice for selecting a biodiversity target is that:

“Targeting and focusing on a single species (or group of species), regardless of how rare they may be, carries an inherent risk of having negative consequences for the wider biodiversity and trade-offs with other ecosystem services. Therefore, biodiversity targets need to be set in the context of overall biodiversity and ecosystem services considerations in the target area to minimise or limit any potential adverse impacts on them.

When species are the biodiversity target, the ecological integrity of the supporting habitat needs to be considered along with the other requirements for the target species (e.g. vegetation structure). A habitat-based approach is the most effective to deliver a range of benefits and minimise trade-off between ecosystem services…

Spatial targeting should not be limited by site map boundaries as there can be sites of equal quality outside the designated area for the species or habitat. In this example any land where the species occurs on and is delivering the result should be eligible in order to provide suitable habitat for species across an adequate area.”

In selecting a target for a payments by results approach the recommendations from the available reports are:

  • That good data is available to inform what the desired state or condition of the target should be set at for the project. This might be a historic reference point, ongoing monitoring data or its current status.

  • That a good Result Indicator is available, that might be something direct, like the number of breeding pairs of birds or it might be a proxy or indirect indicator, such as the right landscape feature being visibly present which supports the target species.

  • The indicator must be something that is responsive to changes in management, it can’t be something that land managers and farmers have little to no ability to influence. Some consideration should also be given to the timescale of response.

  • That there is sufficient knowledge of the result indicator to identify clear monitoring protocols which inform thresholds for scoring it e.g. good, average, bad, in order to measure the result.

  • A results indicator should be easy for all parties involved to understand. A learning from the Yorkshire PBR trial is to “limit the use of subjective assessments, such as percentage of cover, and to recognise the greater variability in scoring that may result if they are adopted (e.g. by using fewer payment tiers, accepting that this may reduce the incentive effect)”.

  • A good indicator should be necessary, the scheme is intended to be simple so indicators should be restricted to what is required. Ideally it is also scientifically meaningful.

  • A results indicator can be a negative. It doesn’t have to be restricted to the environmental outcomes you want, it can be a measure of erosion or invasive species, things which threaten the habitat or species the scheme is trying to support.

  • All the relevant results indicators can then be pulled into one scorecard in order to assess the landscape against the desired result.

Question for Dartmoor ELMs Tests and Trials:

Q1 - Is the RBAPS recommendation of only using PBR to focus on rare and threatened species and habitats an approach that should be replicated in the Dartmoor ELMs Tests and Trials or should the opportunity be used to experiment with a different approach? For example, the review paper the Devon Biodiversity Record Center (DBRC) produced on Nature for the Dartmoor National Park Management Plan suggests that rather than focus on priority species and their, sometimes niche, requirements there could be merit in working to keep common species common as potentially a better indicator of the general health of Dartmoor’s biodiversity.

Q2 - Similarly not all habitat which may be valuable has necessarily been classified, so there may be benefit in focusing in on Dartmoor’s Key Wildlife Areas, which cover a broader biodiversity baseline, rather than designated sites or rare habitats. This approach might also enable a PBR trial which can work across both commons and home farms, where niche habitats and species may be less likely to inhabit both environments.

Q3 - There are multiple demands on the Dartmoor landscape, is it possible to have a PBR approach that delivers on more than one desired outcome at a time? E.g. several different scoring systems operating together to assess how a landscape performs across a variety of indicators.

What is the process for delivering payment by results?

The baseline requirements for a PBR approach, according to GH01 are that you have available the expertise to:

  • Identify potential biodiversity (or other) targets which could benefit from results-based payment schemes;

  • Develop results indicators and thresholds;

  • Provide best practice management guidelines for the selected biodiversity (or other) targets;

  • Design suitable monitoring and evaluation for the measures; and

  • Feed into the review, adaptation and evolution of the scheme.

GH01 emphasizes that planning the monitoring and evaluation should be done at the start of the scheme in order that monitoring can be implemented as soon as possible in the process.

Once the desired species or habitat has been identified and an appropriate scoring system determined most of the schemes to date have heavily utilized the skills of farm advisors to work through the process with farmers and land managers. The RBAPS GH01 recommends these advisors come from a pool of trusted local specialists who can combine both ecological and agricultural knowledge and are willing to participate in an ongoing learning process with the land management community.

The advisors themselves should undergo both initial and ongoing training, the purpose of which GH01 outlines is to:

  • Introduce advisors to the measure’s aims and objectives.

  • Train advisors in the use of result indicators and instill confidence in assessing the results indicators across a range of quality for the biodiversity target(s).

  • Provide comprehensive training on the management requirements for the biodiversity target(s).

The advisors or project support team should prepare for the project by producing supporting materials, written and pictorial, which explain the objectives, the scoring mechanisms, how scoring links to payment and management actions which could be taken to deliver the best outcomes. Ideally participants should be taken on site visits which demonstrate what the optimum outcome should be like.

At the start of the scheme advisors meet with farmers and land managers one on one to review their land and identify appropriate actions which form the basis of a field scale management plan which includes advice for each land parcel entered into the scheme and any complementary actions. Plans should be simple, concise, farm specific and easy to comprehend, GH01 recommend they include:

  • Farm map showing field boundaries and labeling into which measure they are entered.

  • Details of fields entered to each sub-measure with brief management advice for each field.

  • Score log for the overall score and the level of achievement for each result indicator to be added each year so changes are easily seen.

  • Additional farm map(s) identifying the location of complementary actions, if required.

Where PBR schemes have run on common land, such as the Hen Harrier Project in Galway, one plan is developed for the whole common. Not all common rights holders need to participate but they do all need to be informed of the plan and it is the responsibility of those commoners actively participating to ensure the plan is acceptable to all rights holders. The plan must not negatively impact on non-participating rights holders use of the common. The relationship management required to achieve this is not considered the responsibility of the project, in this example from Galway, but the responsibility of those commoners participating.

As well as focusing on providing a supportive environment for the Hen Harrier, it’s relevant to note that this particular PBR trial also delivered a grazed fuel break system for managing the risk of fires on the common. Supporting the creation of rides between less vulnerable areas like lakes, roads and watercourses.

For some schemes the advisor and farmer/land manager meet annually to review progress, in very high priority areas they may meet more frequently, alternatively as schemes become more established they may meet every other year or every few years.

Ongoing learning should also be provided to all participants throughout the duration of the scheme, this may be classroom based, site based or peer to peer.

Assessment of the scheme and scoring in projects to date has usually been done annually by the farm advisor returning to assess the site against the scorecard.

If the site has moved up a threshold based on the scorecard criteria payment increases, if it has declined payment would decrease, potentially participation could become non-viable if the score becomes too low. In the Burren participants start receiving a payment for achieving a score of 6 out of 10, with the average score being between7/8. The poorest scoring land, 5 and below, receive funds for a limited number of years, if the land doesn’t reach a good level on the scorecard at the end of that time frame participation in the scheme is terminated.

One of the perceived advantages of the PBR approach is that with appropriate training and support farmers should be able to self-assess their sites, in fact GH01 encourages this approach on the basis that “the enhanced understanding of farmers will ultimately support the delivery of the biodiversity target(s)”.

There are three key learnings from the Yorkshire RBAPS trial which can help improve the assessment process:

1. Assessments should be standardised so that they can be easily repeated. The Yorkshire trial found that when it came to site surveys it was best to have a mapped transect which could be replicated at different times of year and by different people. They found that specifying times of year also added to the repeatability of the approach e.g. “before the hay was cut and once the majority of plant species are in flower - this is usually between late June and late July”. Standardised monitoring can also be enhanced by the use of technology, such as GPS positioned fixed point photography, satellite imagery and phone apps for recording data.

2. Where a farmer assessment approach was being encouraged with an, as needed, external independent verification it is particularly important to have defined assessment windows, ensuring the external verification takes place as close to the self-assessment survey date as possible.

3. The Yorkshire trial found that once engaged farmers were keen to provide further information from their observations over the seasons. The wading bird trial found farmers wanted to contribute insights “weather conditions, temperature, whether waders failed or were successful with rearing broods etc.” So a text box was included in the self-assessment form, making the form more useful to both the individual farmers, who can record their learning about how to manage different weather conditions, for example, but also to the project overall as the information provided can be used in project monitoring and updating advice given to participants.

As well as ongoing monitoring of the participants the RBPAS guidance is that it is inherently important to have a range of experts and stakeholders involved in ongoing monitoring of the efficacy of the scheme itself. This group should include, “farming groups, relevant NGO’s, experts on measure specific habitats and species, social scientists (evaluating attitudinal responses), agricultural economists (socio-economic evaluation, assessment of cost effectiveness) statisticians and farm advisors (to evaluate practical use of the scoring assessments). Implementing monitoring will require personnel with expertise in the selected monitoring taxa, monitoring techniques and other monitoring parameters.”

The RBAPS Guidance GH01 states that key aspects of the monitoring include:

  • Validation of the robustness of the selected results indicators as indicators of quality for the biodiversity targets.

  • Evaluation of what degree the scheme aims and objectives are being met, primarily by establishing the level of change, if any, in the biodiversity targets under the scheme.

  • Assessment of changes in attitudes and socio-economic impacts of measure.

  • Financial monitoring and budgetary control.

Ongoing monitoring of the scheme enables perpetual improvement over time. As a new process some of the PBR trials were originally only supported for a couple of years, in the Burren participation is set at 5 years but the scheme has run for longer. In designing the scheme consideration should be given to the length of time it’s likely to take to deliver on the objectives but arguably, as long as funding is available, to make a significant and lasting difference in the landscape longer running schemes would be preferable.

Question for Dartmoor ELMs Tests and Trials:

Q1 - How do people feel about the Hen Harrier Programme’s approach to PBR on common land? E.g. that not all rights holders have to participate, that it’s up to those participating to manage relations with those who aren’t and that people can opt to receive payments directly or into shared bank account.

Q2 - How do people feel about the Burren’s scoring payment thresholds?

Q3 - What are people’s views on self-assessment?

Q4 - What length of scheme would people find most appropriate?

How is the payment determined?

The basis of a results based payment system is the achievement of a defined environmental result. In a pure results based system payment reflects the level of achievement. Payments are set to correlate with the scorecard assessment, the higher the scorecard assessment the higher the payment and vice versa. Payments should support both maintenance of biodiversity and the agricultural practices required to deliver it and thus should create a structure which rewards both past and present management.

A pure payments by results approach does not include any additional funding for capital costs, complementary actions or specific management actions. However, it is also possible to create hybrid payment scheme which combines both PBR and some prescribed management options in which case you get both a payment for the level of achievement but also a fixed payment for agreed management options, such as hedge creation, for example. The Burren Programme divides its annual farmer payments roughly equally between payments for actions and payments for outputs, the work is co-funded between the farmers and the project.

Another hybrid option is PBR with additional capital investments or investment in complementary actions. These are usually one off payments, expected to deliver a significant benefit and the GH01 guidance suggests they’re best used when the threat to habitat or species is particularly significant or the baseline biodiversity so low that intervention is required to bring the landscape up to the minimum level required to attract any payment.

When considering a hybrid scheme the GH01 guidance recommends a cost benefit analysis should be undertaken on the additional option considered and payment restricted to either costs incurred, where there is no commercial use to the farm such as peat re-wetting, or co-funding where the farm business may also benefit, for example if a pasture pump is installed to encourage grazing in a specific site.

Hybrid schemes, where management options are included along with PBR payments, have also staggered payments for the creation of new habitat, for example paying 60% of the cost in the year of establishing a new woodland and 40% three years later when it can be evidenced that the trees were well established.

However, it is important to ensure that those who have delivered the best environmental value from the outset are most rewarded and that the majority of available funds aren’t consumed by the poorest performers.

Payments by results, where the results cannot be known in advance, raises concern about the challenge of budget planning due to the potential variability of outcomes. Some schemes have capped total payments per ha at a maximum in order to manage their budgets.

The Hen Harrier Programme had a per ha cap and on farms with commons rights the priority was to see results on the common. The programme was set up so that 75% of the maximum allowance was targeted at action on the common unless the common was already performing highly e.g. scoring 8/10. Payments for the home farm went directly to the individual whilst, for payments for common land participants could select whether they were paid individually or collectively via a group bank account.

However evidence from the Yorkshire trial would suggest per ha caps may not be necessary:

“[F]or most measures, such as habitat condition, it should be possible to accurately anticipate expenditure based on baseline condition assessments and assumed average rates of habitat quality improvement. Annual measures, such as the arable measures tested here, are potentially more prone to fluctuation but their performance has been broadly consistent across the pilot (even in a challenging growing season affected by drought) which suggests that average performance levels would emerge which could be used for budget planning purposes.”

The value of the payments themselves may be determined by a range of scenarios:

  • income foregone;

  • additional costs (also known as costs incurred);

  • opportunity costs, where the most significant threat is a change in management, from extensive to intensive farming or from farming to forestry, for example;

  • full cost of management where the most significant threat is land abandonment; and

  • transaction costs i.e. “If the scoring assessments are the responsibility of the farmer and/or their farm advisor then this will reduce public transactions costs but transfer these costs to the participant and increase their private transaction costs… In the Burren Programme, assessment is undertaken annually and the farmer pays for the services of their advisor - costings for this are included in the measure calculations.”

  • whether the scheme is “banded” as is in the Burren, where payments per ha vary depending on farm size (i.e smaller farms receive a higher per ha payment rate to support smaller holdings).

Ultimately available budget may of course be the determining factor but if the budget is set to low then obviously there is little motivation for farmers and land managers to participate in the scheme.

WTO rules have not impinged on trials which have aimed to meet the green box conditions:

  • not price supporting, no or minimal effects on production;

  • government funded;

  • clearly defined environmental programme;

  • payment based on extra costs or loss of income.

Question for Dartmoor ELMs Tests and Trials:

Q1 - Seemingly there has yet to be a trial which paid farmers based on natural capital values. Would it be a useful contribution to create and evaluate at least one trial where payments would be determined using the natural capital accounting approach?

Q2 - Does the use of income foregone send the wrong message about the social and environmental value of a PBR approach (in contrast to natural capital, for example, which is inherently based on this work having social and environmental value)?

Q3 - What do people think of the way the Hen Harrier Programme prioritized spending on the common above spending on the home farm?

Q4 - Would farmers rather have budget to select and pay an advisor of their own choosing or prefer these costs and responsibility for providing an advisor remained with the project delivery body? [Please note that the Dartmoor ELMs Test and Trial Advisory Team have now reached a position on advice which is also available on this website in the blog archive.]

Q5 - How do people feel about the Burren approach of banding payments so that smaller holdings have a higher per ha payment available to them than larger holdings?

“Is this the right approach to take?” GH01 decision diagram

PBR Options which may be worth exploring on Dartmoor

Below is a list of options, by no means exhaustive, which could be appropriate for a Dartmoor payments by results trial.

Building on existing work:

  • Look at the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly as a PBR outcome both exploring whether the existing model, developed in Ireland, can easily translate to a Dartmoor setting and also as a way of progressing the existing Marsh Fritillary Dartmoor farmer cluster group’s work.

  • Build on the Dartmoor Moorland Bird Project's work and see if this can be adapted into a PBR approach, which would be resource efficient as much of the engagement material has already been developed.

  • Explore whether a PBR approach would be an effective second phase for the Dartmoor Headwater Natural Flood Management Project, particularly seeing if it was possible to identify any potential difference in cost of delivery between two different approaches.

  • Link in to the Dartmoor Curlew Recovery Project as an example of how PBR might be used to complement capital payment in delivering species reintroduction. Farmers not directly participating in the project but with responsibility for land around the project could be engaged in a PBR trial.

New approaches:

  • The DBRC has highlighted the need to “keep common species common” in their report for the Dartmoor National Park Management Plan. A trial around common species may be a good opportunity for exploring how PBR can enhance biodiversity generally.

  • A more specific suggestion looking at common species would be the dung beetle as a species which should be common across a range of Dartmoor habitats, making it a good indicator for both farms and commons. It’s also a species which benefits from a variety of grazing animals being present and is directly impacted by herd health management which works well for Dartmoor farm systems and bridges the farm/environment PBR divide. Whilst dung beetles should be common its presence does link to rare species, such as the Greater Horseshoe Bat for which it is a key food source. Both Natural England and Oxford University have recently undertaken research projects on dung beetles so there should be good data available to inform a trial. Dung beetles are also relatively easy to find and identify without extensive training.

  • Explore the use of PBR as a way of financially supporting natural regeneration.

  • Create a PBR model which encourages the presence of habitat mosaics across different landscapes.

  • Explore how ELMs would work if the whole scheme was based on a payments by results approach across all six of Defra’s public goods.

  • Examine the financial merits of a PBR approach which is based on using natural capital value to reward farmers and land managers.

  • Look at reinstatement of vegetation on exposed peat and re-wetting peat.

  • Focus on the role a PBR approach could have in taking archaeological sites off the “at risk” register.

  • Explore our a PBR approach could better support farmers in managing the increasing visitor pressure on Dartmoor.

  • Harriet Bell

At their virtual meeting on the 16th of July the Dartmoor farmer led Advisory Team, supporting the test and trial, came to a decision about the best Land Management Plan approach for Dartmoor. This is how farmers indicate what public goods they'll be delivering on their land in order to support payment.

The team went for a farmer led mapping approach, with an accompanying scorecard system, supported by advice. So now we need to work through each of these elements to develop the detail.

These are the notes from the second Advisory Team discussion on the role of mapping which took place on Monday 27th July (notes from the first discussion are also available in our blog archive).

Prior to the meeting some examples of existing mapping systems were circulated so that the team could identify which system they would most like to work with.

Alongside that a list of all of the different existing or potential outcomes that the Team had talked about delivering through ELMs, in previous public goods discussions, was also circulated. This was to enable people to reflect on whether the mapping systems they were looking at would help them deliver these objectives.

Mapping systems to consider using, either in part or entirely, in the Dartmoor Test & Trial:

List of potential outcomes to delivering through ELMs which a Land Management Plan mapping system would need to aid in delivering/monitoring:

  • Monitor natural regeneration

  • Join up existing pockets of small woodland across a landscape

  • Identified woodland well suite to recreation

  • Determine where trees are not appropriate

  • Identify precious views

  • Manage firebreaks

  • Map rhos pasture

  • Record species, nesting sites etc.

  • Record tenancy/grazing license details

  • Show landscape designations

  • Monitor impact of dogs

  • Keep photographic evidence records

  • Share data and information between farmers working on the same common

  • Enable monitoring/recording at different times of year

  • Support farmers with shared interests around public goods delivery to work together

  • Plan grazing

  • Identify where to install ponds, and other features, for water retention

  • Use one system from home farms and commons which enables joint management of plans for both

  • Identify areas where payment for re-wetting peat is likely

  • Accurately depict all the public goods already present

  • Help farmers create a shared vision

  • Monitor erosion of soil and paths

  • Plan for planting shelter belts

  • Plan depicting infrastructure

  • record which habitats/areas benefit from which different management activities

  • Soil map/record soil testing results and applications

  • Map river crossing points/wet areas to monitor condition

  • Identify history water features and their condition

  • Identify appropriate areas to fence water courses

  • Monitor stocking rates

  • Identify opportunities for renewable energy

  • Monitor invasive/non-native species and their management

  • Monitor carbon sequestration

  • Archeology identification and management

  • Understand geology

  • Identify areas to "slow the flow" of water

  • Monitor impacts of any re-introduced species

  • Map hefts

  • Identify grazing priority areas and non-grazing priority areas within a landscape

  • Overlay firebreaks with archaeology features for efficiency of managing both

  • Map field boundaries and record condition or need for repair

  • Manage swaling

  • Deliver signage and GPS based interpretation for members of the public

  • Manage permissive access

  • Identify appropriate location for vistor facilitues e.g. gates, accessible footpaths, parking, toilets etc.

  • Experiment and trial different management approaches and record outcomes

  • Identify opportunities to work together and also with outside groups.

Advisory Team discussion:

  • Really liked the lagas mapping system because it had so much more useful data on it. A lot of the existing systems would suffice, if I wanted more detailed mapping I might be more inclined to pay for it so that I could own the data rather than someone else have ownership of it. Who decides what it is that’s on the ground that’s then interpreted, if I paid for the service I would know what’s right and wrong. A lot of the maps are vague and generalized, I want something more specific to my farm. Maybe it’s not about the mapping system that we use but what it delivers. My question is who owns the data? If I pay for it no one can challenge it. Lagas interesting what it called opportunities and it was real, relevant data that we could interpret and use. The Land App we looked at and had internet issues, it was a bit clunky. MAGIC is good enough but I used that to measure an area for fencing, I submitted it to the RPA, they measured it one the ground and I got fined because there was a discrepancy.

  • I looked at them as much as I could, they’ve all got good bits and bad bits. There wasn’t in any of them the opportunity to lay your data on top. It would be good if there was a private function and a public function. So there was a public bit relating to central data but then a private bit. We need to build in a time lag ability – capturing past information and projecting into the future.

  • Layers are really important, to formulate our own layers for our own farm and then layer it over baselines is crucial. The more layers of data we get the better as long as each layer is selectable. The lagas map was really interesting because it brought in other interesting business data and, as the industry develops, it may provide additional information to support diversification. If we could talk to local LEPs and bring in that data as well it may help supports our farm businesses.

  • I found the information in the lagas map interesting but in the current format you couldn’t layer the different data sets on top of each other. There was really good data in all of the maps. What I know about the Land App is that you could select projects and have public or private and you could control what you shared and what you didn’t. Also I felt that in Tim at the Land App there was someone who was open to helping us create what we want whereas in some of the other systems, like MAGIC, it was hard to imagine getting changes made easily.

  • It sounds to me as though everyone is on the same page of needing a fusion between national and local data. I’m currently experiencing problems with the government MAGIC system on something which I know is there but they say is not and we’re unlikely to have the time to get it changed before the submission deadline. We’re currently using QGIS so we can download all of the national data but then upload our own farm plan data as well. It also has an overview section so you can easily see what’s on each farm.

  • I haven’t had a chance to experience other than the peatland and MAGIC map but neither marry up with what’s on the ground and that concerns me because we’ll be held to account. We need a decent map with analysis to show what’s on the ground, with MAGIC the commons boundaries are different.

  • I have a number of concerns. We’ve had a range of maps and websites to view, all of which are commercially available and all of whom I believe would do as we wish. I don’t think this forum is going to be able to deliver for us a single system which will fit all of our needs and the needs of the regulator. The information is already there it’s just how it’s held. It’s going to become more transparent what we’re doing, whether we like it or not, given satellites and drones etc. So the question is when and how are we going to be able to progress this which covers all of the statutory stuff and any additional features. The baseline is what is the information the regulator will be happy with. What I do know as a group we need to be far clearer as to what it is we’re looking to identify and what it is we need and also if Defra is the paymaster what are they looking for. What are going to be the eligible areas so that we can start this. I don’t think any one of these systems actually delivers what is required.

  • We need to map a particular scale, if it’s too far out it’s meaningless if it’s too far in it’s meaningless. A lot of people outline the problems with MAGIC which I think is right, they tend to enable you to map things you can evidence you have retrospectively but that means farmers may miss out. Defra are not going to allow 100 different mapping systems.

  • The question is what is the breadth that Defra is prepared to support, how much do we need to include? Ts there going to be a point when the RPA can look down at stocking densities in which case we need the criteria, then potentially bring in all the other social economic models. We just need to be clear.

  • We should give a loose response and Defra should accept the compatibility and suitability of the what we provide. The ground truthing is important and that can only be done at a farm level and where we pay for it. We also need to differentiate between a static mapping system and observational data gathering. I think we need to explore outside of currently where we are with the mapping and look at what the arable boys are doing. We have to find what we want and it might be something outside of this exercise, it may be a pure management tool.

  • What concerns me is that if a mapping system is flawed it’s only as good as the information that’s gone into them. Unless we have an opportunity to look at the information going in we can’t trust that system, for example the peat map has drains and erosion where I know there’s not drains and erosion. The only map I trust is the basic OS map.

  • Providing we can ground truth it that’s what we should start from. It’s having a definitive map and who is going to have it or are we going to be classed as someone whose map is unreliable. It comes down to the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence.

  • We can focus on what we want from the mapping system, then identify at a practical level what we want to see.

  • The lines on the map, having numbers everywhere tend to be a tool we get beaten with so we’ve said this before but it needs to be simple and easy to use because we could get bogged down in detail. Not saying that’s not important at a farm level but that’s the private stuff, what goes into the claim needs to be very simple.

  • We aren’t going to find the system that’s perfect, a lot of this information is going to come out as we draw up the management plan. The other thing is I think there is a big difference between mapping your farm and mapping the common, getting detailed mapping for the common is going to be difficult. Buying the detailed data or flying drones costs a fortune, we looked at it for Common Cause and we had to give up, the cost of detailed mapping on commons.

  • All the maps we looked at drew down data that’s already in the public domain. So then we ask ourselves how much data do we need? Is there a cost benefit to us for minor habitat features? There’s a sweet spot between the cost and the benefit we get back.

  • If you go back to the FEP’s, everyone who did them went out and walked it to ground truth it, is that so bad?

  • I’m very happy to fly my drone and then trudge around a bit. Things I think we should be including: GPS is essential, we need the layers, I like to be able to drop and label pins, photos are helpful with coordinates, I like easy acreage measurers, I like to be able to record animal movements, also I think the movement of water is really important on the maps in the context of future payments.

  • I would just like to remind everybody that we’re still sending out paper copies for BPS claim forms because we have a duty of care to our whole farming community. Most people can manage an OS map and then they can add more detail.

  • We need to make sure legends and colours can be easily read by everyone.

  • It seems to me that there’s two different systems we could be talking about here. A higher scale mapping showing public goods, excepting that they’re not perfect and may need some data cut out or corrected. Mapping at a correct scale would help with landscape scale working. FEP were fantastic in their day, although they did then become unwieldy, and that process could be used to refine data for a farm scale.

  • I agree with that it needs to be simple but I’m fearful that it isn’t going to be. If we start talking about mapping with other farmers firstly it’s perceived as a stick to beat us with secondly with all the money that’s been lost through mapping and re-mapping.

  • To move forward what we need to do is identify two, maybe three organisations, that are prepared to work with us on this and get proposals from two or three of the better suppliers who are prepared to work with us on developing a project so we can establish which one is going to deliver for everyone. We can identify the areas but we don’t have the software skills. Who is out there who may be prepared to work with us.

  • Wondering about compatibility and security of our data, we don’t know any of these commercial land mapping companies and the security of their data.

  • We need to have a system that’s resilient in the face of technological crisis.

  • We need a system that helps fill in any of the white spaces where there’s currently no data for Dartmoor.

  • We need to make sure that budget is used effectively as we decide how to move forward and which company to work with.

  • It’s got to be as common sense as possible, if we can get on farm and on common look at these things that are important and how we present that that’s the best way around. We need to make sure this doesn’t exclude anyone.

  • We’ve heard a lot about the Burren, I believe it would be really helpful to have a presentation on their scorecard.

The final outcome was that the Team decided they would prefer to identify the scorecard first and use the requirements of the scorecard to identify the most appropriate mapping tool.

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