DEFRA's Environmental Stewardship Schemes
DEFRA's Environmental Stewardship Scheme was embraced by the whole Estate as well as the Entry Level Scheme. As the CSS draws to a close, a Higher Level Scheme (HLS) is being applied for an in-hand land. This will complement the existing HLS an Skipwith Common. These schemes enhance wildlife by creating a mosaic of over 100 ha of new wildlife habitats over the whole area. It will preserve grassland, increase the area of over wintering stubbles, create wildlife corridors from grass margins and hedge restoration, and plant corners of fields with wild flowers and over-winter cover. Species of note on the wider farmland include lapwing, skylarks, tree sparrow, corn buntings and barn owl.
The comprehensive scheme covers the Home Farm at Escrick Park, as well as many of the tenant farmers in Escrick Parish, and the majority of agricultural land in Skipwith Parish has been included.
Recently, an area of about 500 acres to the North of Skipwith Common, has been designated as a wild English Partridge area. In years gone by, wild English Partridges would have been the primary quarry species. They have declined hugely over the whole country, and are now a Biodiversity Action Plan Target Species. Grass margins are left, and in some cases planted with flowers to enhance pollen and therefore insect levels to provide protein to chicks in their crucial first 3 weeks of life. Special partridge feeders and shelters are put out, vermin control is carried out intensively to reduce predation, and no game is released in this area. A baseline survey has been carried out, and numbers have slightly increased in the first year.
- Embracing DEFRA's Countryside Stewardship and Entry Level Schemes
- Creating a mosaic of over 100 ha of new wildlife habitats
- Working with tenant farmers in Escrick and Skipwith Parishes
- Creation of a red squirrel habitat
- Restoring grass margins and hedgerows to create wildlife corridors