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Call to protect funding of wildlife-friendly land

The Department of Agriculture could miss its own target to get 50% of agricultural land into wildlife-friendly schemes by 2011.

That’s according to a coalition of farming and wildlife groups which have banded together to urge Finance Minister Sammy Wilson and Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew to ring-fence funding for agri-environment schemes.

The 12 groups warned against any Government cuts that could undermine the environmental measures, saying agri-environment schemes bring money into the economy from European funds, support farm and other rural businesses and help farmers protect water supplies, carbon stores, wildlife, landscapes and historical sites.

A letter was written to the ministers on behalf of organisations as diverse as The British Association for Shooting and Conservation and Friends of the Earth.

“Many species will continue to decline if farmers are not able to provide appropriate management,” the letter said.

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