Autumn Conference at Sandringham just two weeks away

In just over two weeks’ time, a capacity audience will be attending the North Norfolk Coastal Group’s September Conference on the Royal Sandringham Estate.

The assembled farmers, landowners and conservation groups will be hearing from a range of speakers – top government officials, academics, thought leaders and innovators – as they present information and ideas that could steer the future relationship between farming and the natural environment.

The Conference, which takes place on Friday 22 September 9am-2pm, has been organised by the North Norfolk Coastal Group and will be hosted by the Sandringham Estate. Over the course of four hours, the audience will be presented with some groundbreaking academic evidence, government and local government strategies, examples of successful initiatives and a technology advance in the quest for a balance between nature recovery and food production.

Janet Hughes, the Defra Director of the Farming and Countryside Programme, will be talking about the latest SFI 2023 roll-out, explaining how this fundamental change to farm funding will work. In an extended Q&A, the civil servant can expect to field some challenging questions from the gathered farming community. 

While SFIs are the current hot topic, possibly the presentation that raises the most implications, challenges and – ultimately – solutions, will be the presentation by Professor Paul Dolman of the University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences.

Professor Dolman will be reporting back on Phase Two of the Norfolk Biodiversity Audit. This is the ground breaking work that the UEA team has been doing across the farmed North Norfolk coastal region and inland areas to quantify priority species and then analyse their management needs. The information contained within the Biodiversity Audit and the analysis of that information will give clear guidance to farmers, conservation practitioners and land managers, that cuts across multiple taxa to support biodiversity recovery in managed landscapes.

Putting science into action is the aim of the North Norfolk Landscape Recovery Pilot – North Norfolk: Wilder, Wetter, Better for Nature (Landscape Recovery Pilot) – Plans for chalk river restoration and species recovery.

The audience will hear from Dr Katy Owen and Becky Banks as they outline how the project is developing and what plans are in place for its successful implementation.

Practical application of academic study is at the heart of Professor Carl Sayer and researcher Helen Greaves’ work. The pair work out of University College London (UCL) and for the past few years have been leading groups in pond restoration across Norfolk. Professor Sayer’s avowed aim is to restore as many of Norfolk’s lost ponds as possible during his lifetime. Greaves and Sayer will be talking on two topics: water for Wildlife and the Norfolk Ponds Project – both essential themes in this dry part of the country.

At the Conference, Sayer and Greaves will be launching their guidance booklet on ‘Creation, restoration and management of ponds’. This is a joint venture with the Freshwater Habitats Trust. 

One of the key tools in building a area-wide framework for nature recovery is the ability to map the land. Dan Geerah of the LandApp will be explaining how his company has the product and knowledge necessary to tap into the past, map the present and plan for the future. 

After an open Q & A session and a light lunch, agroforestry expert Stephen Briggs will lead an in-field presentation on the challenges and benefits of agroforestry, as currently being practiced on the Sandringham Estate.