FARMERS, landowners and tenants have welcomed a new era of Dartmoor management after decades of conflict which has stalled a sustainable future.

Constant conflict between farmers - commoners who have grazing rights - and government body Natural England over how to best manage the moor for the users and the natural world has held up improvements of the sort called for by Prince William (a moor landowner with the Duchy Estate) to improve the environmental health of the moor.

So, a meeting was held on Friday (March 15) between farmers and landowners with Natural England (the Defra regulatory body) CEO Marian Spain and the new Defra Secretary Steve Barclay, to discuss the way forward following a review chaired by David Fursdon. Matt Cole, NFU representative for upland farmers attended Friday’s meeting:

“Following the excellent report under David Fursdon, I’m really pleased that the momentum is continuing for a more constructive way of managing Dartmoor in a more sustainable way and hopefully in a more holistic way.

“The idea is that there will no longer be small individual environmental agreements on commons which are too narrowly focused on habitat indicators. Natural England has come into conflict with Commoners for dictating what they can do, with the main focus being on stock removal, seriously affecting the sustainability of farms on Dartmoor.

“Hopefully the whole moor will be managed as one landscape underpinned by a small Dartmoor management group set up to oversee the implementation of the actions recommended by the review.