Supporting nature-friendly farmers to make a difference is a complex, often underestimated task. In order to describe and promote best practice we have developed guidance in collaboration with CIEEM on a range of topics relevant to farm advisers. The guidance was developed through the Back from the Brink project Colour in the Margins, following consultation with a wide range of advice providers.
Well-trained, competent and confident Farm Environment Advisers, respected for their expertise and the added value they bring to the farm business, are essential if we are to help farmers and land managers make the transition to more sustainable farming practices.
In addition to the guidance and in order to provide structure for training provision and continuing professional development, a draft Competency Framework (insert link) for the role of Farm Environment Adviser has been developed following extensive consultation. The Framework identifies the knowledge, understanding and skills required, which are assigned to 16 areas of competency and three levels of competence:
- Trainee level is suitable for those learning the role
- Proficient level is for the experienced generalist adviser
- Advanced level recognises those with more in depth or specialist knowledge in one or more relevant competency areas.
The competency framework emphasises that farm environmental advice must:
- Be pragmatic and based on a good understanding of the farmer or land manager’s main objectives for their farming practice and their attitude towards delivering environmental outcomes.
- Integrate effectively with other sources of advice that the farmer is receiving, which assumes sufficient knowledge of farming practices and farm economics to be able to predict where conflicts may occur and where compromise is needed.
- Be realistic regarding ongoing management and be aligned to local, regional and national priorities and green financing opportunities.
This report (link coming soon) summarises the development of the competency framework and its utility.
This competency framework is a draft and we welcome feedback from both practitioners and other stakeholders, including those who receive environmental advice. Plantlife are consulting with organisational stakeholders and looking for support. If you are involved in farm environment advice delivery we are keen to hear your views (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
A searchable directory of habitat and species management advice is being created to provide a single location to go to for advice on managing for habitats and species.
Watch this space.