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Carmarthenshire farm wins Wales's Nature of Farming Award

Last modified: 19 July 2012

Richard Gough, Roger Mathias and Rowan Flindall

Image: The RSPB

A Carmarthenshire farm has been named as Wales’ winner in this year’s RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.

John Burns owner of Penlan Farm alongside his team Richard Gough, Rowan Flindall and Roger Mathias, has won the regional round of the competition for their achievements in looking after wildlife and the environment while running a productive mixed farm.

They will now go on to selection for the final round of the competition, which aims to find the UK’s most wildlife-friendly farmer.

Mark Vercoe, from RSPB Cymru, said: “Penlan Farm is an impressive example of what it’s possible to achieve for wildlife within a commercial farming system, and shows that conservation needn’t clash with profitability.”

Owner, John Burns has spent the last six years balancing modern agriculture and the preservation of the countryside. We have re-introduced an arable element in an otherwise grassland landscape, with the result that spring cropping and winter stubbles now attract large winter flocks of birds such as linnet and goldfinch.”

Sensitive management of field margins and hedgerows provides good nesting opportunities for species such as whitethroat and yellowhammer and valuable winter food for a wide range of wildlife. There is a network of ponds and splashes, home to amphibians and dragonflies, and the traditional hay meadows hum to the sound of bees. The old farm buildings are used by a range of birds, including barn owl, swallow and house martin as nesting sites.

John said; “'I am delighted that our farm has won Wales’ Nature of Farming Award this year.  This is not only a reflection of the conservation work being carried out at Penlan Farm but also of the working relationship with the RSPB and other wildlife organisations.  In recent years numbers of breeding whitethroat and linnet have increased significantly and we have re-established a number of arable plants such as sharp-leaved fluellen.”

The eight regional winners will now be shortlisted to four finalists by a panel of judges.

Then, from 20 July, the UK public will be invited to decide the UK winner by casting their votes by phone, post, online via The Telegraph, or at country shows throughout the summer.

News on how to vote will appear on the website www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote.

The competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.

The EU LIFE+ Programme funds RSPB work which supports wildlife-friendly farming that furthers sustainable development in the European Union.

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