Food, Land and Sea

Need a Devon Landuse Framework to bring key partners together and understand impact.

Increase education and knowledge transfer so people are informed at all levels.

Establish a carbon offsetting scheme to incentivise and fund carbon sequestration.

Improve the local timber markets.

Lobby for national clarification on farming subsidies & how this aligns with net-zero targets.

Support local food supply chains.



Laura Cardenas

Laura is an Atmospheric Chemist at Rothamsted Research in Devon. Laura has a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry and is currently studying the link between grazing behaviour and nitrous oxide emissions from extensive upland and intensive lowland agricultural systems. She is a key contributor to the Defra inventory of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Gill Westcott

Gill is Co-Chair of Transition Exeter and a Director of New Prosperity Devon. She has a background in education for sustainability and health economics and has lived on a Devon smallholding since 1992. She is a former Chair of Cheriton Bishop Parish Council and helped found the Cheriton Bishop Community Land Trust to provide affordable homes for local people.

Suzanne Goodfellow

Sue is an ecologist and environmentalist who has worked in conservation for over 30 years, mostly with Dartmoor National Park Authority where she was Director and led on climate change. She then ran her own environmental consultancy and has worked on sustainable tourism and biodiversity projects. She was a Director of Europarc Atlantic Isles, and Chair of Natural Devon for 5 years, leading nationally on biodiversity. Currently, Sue is the Chair of Devon Wildlife Trust, a Moorland Guide and writes and lectures on wildlife and conservation.



Adam is a senior Farm Conservation Adviser and has been an adviser for Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) for 14 years. His role involves providing environmental advice to farmers on a wide range of subjects including habitat management, climate mitigation and adaptation, grazing management and farm infrastructure. He has a broad background in practical conservation and farm management having started his career with the RSPB on the East Devon Pebble bed Heath’s and previously managed a dairy goat herd and run his own flock of Exmoor Horn sheep alongside his advisory role. Previously Adam represented FWAG on the group responsible for drafting the first Green House Gas Action Plan for UK Agriculture and currently represents FWAG at a national policy level on the Defra and Rural Payments Agency stakeholder group for the delivery of Agri-Environment Schemes.

Profile photo of Paul Cottington

After gaining a degree in Politics and Philosophy, Paul went on to study for a master’s in environmental management followed by a LLM in Environmental Law. Paul then began working on multiple environmental protection roles including work Kent Wildlife Trust and Wiveliscombe Area Partnership. Since 2007, Paul has worked as the Environment Advisor for the NFU where he is responsible for providing a broad range of business- critical environmental advice to land managers in highly regulated and diverse industries.

Chris Gregory

Education: Chris holds BSc in Estate Management and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Chris started working for the Duchy of Cornwall in 1988 and is Land Steward for Western District and the Isles of Scilly and as such responsible for a team managing some 100,000 acres of land, including a substantial upland estate on Dartmoor, lowland farming, forestry and rural business interests in Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly.

Mark Prior

Mark is Chartered Forester with over 30 years’ experience, mainly in the south of England and Wales.  Previous specialist roles have been leading the South West (SW) Bioheat programme for the SW Regional Development Agency and Forestry Commission.  Currently leading the Forestry Commission team in the South West.  The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands. We work with two agencies Forestry England who manage the nation’s forests and Forest Research.  Mark has lived in South Devon for the last 20 years.

Peter Burgess

Peter has spent over 20 years working in the conservation sector in Devon. He finds the habitats and species supported in the county infinitely inspiring.

Peter has diverse experience developing and delivering conservation and land management projects in the South West. He was involved in one of the earliest landscape scale projects – the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project in 1999 and with the Reconnecting the Culm project for Butterfly Conservation. His first role at DWT was as project manager of Working Wetlands in the first stages of the Trust’s landscape scale conservation of Culm grassland.

Peter has a practical land management background, which means that development of DWT’s Living Landscape projects are well grounded and achievable. Peter works with and has established a wide range of partnerships in the county and is a Director of the DR Company which supports rural regeneration, environmental and development projects.

Sarah Jennings is the County Ecologist for Devon County Council and Devon Local Nature Partnership Manager working with a wide range of partners across Devon on wildlife strategy and delivery.  Work currently includes providing expert advice to planners and developers on large infrastructure schemes, coordinating a Devon approach to biodiversity net gain, Chairing the Devon Nature Recovery Network Steering Group and developing a community network for wildlife action.  She sits on various wildlife groups including Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty partnerships, North Devon Biosphere and the national Terrestrial Biodiversity Group.  Sarah wrote the Devon State of Nature report, Chaired and led the Devon Special Species initiative and organises Local Nature Partnership conferences and events.  Prior to joining Devon County Council in 2008  Sarah worked in a range of wildlife conservation roles covering issues such as agricultural policy, farmland birds, green infrastructure, diffuse pollution and estuarine management.  Sarah has an MSc in Rural Development from Plymouth University, a Degree in Geography from Cambridge University and is a full member of CIEEM.

David Fursdon

David was educated at St John’s College, Oxford and at the Royal Agricultural University Cirencester, where he is now an honorary Fellow. Previously he worked in the Ministry of Defence. He subsequently qualified as a rural Chartered Surveyor. He was President of the County Land and Business Association between (2005-2007), a Commissioner of the Crown Estate (2008-2017) and of English Heritage (2009-2013). He served on the Board of the South West Regional Development Agency and chaired the South-West Board for London 2012. He then chaired the Government’s ‘Future of Farming’ review (2013) and DEFRA’s SW Rural and Farming Network (still active). He was a member of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission in 2007 and Rural Housing Policy Group in 2015. He became Chairman of Beeswax Dyson Farming in 2014 and serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Trust. In 2017 he chaired the SW Rural Productivity Commission and became an Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Food, Farming and Countryside Commissioner. He has run his own small estate in Devon since 1979 and a consultancy business. He became Lord-Lieutenant of Devon in 2015. He has been chairman of Cadbury parish since 1982 and his interests include sport, having played first class cricket and club rugby.

Mary Quicke

Mary Quicke MBE DL, Executive Director at Quicke’s Traditional Ltd integrated cheesemaking and farming family business in Devon making 250 traditional clothbound cheese/year from 600 cows pasture based in 2 calving blocks.  Arable farming for cash crops and to feed cows. Photovoltaic panels power cheese storage.  Quicke Estate as a whole including managing woodland sequesters more carbon than it emits.  Developing Academy of Cheese, a certification scheme whose aim is cheese sold for value and sustainability not price.  Food Standard Agency Board Member, Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board Dairy Sector Board Member, Chairman of Council, Devon County Agricultural Association.

Martyn has been farming on the family farm for nearly 40 years. The farm is at Shillingford Abbot, on the edge of Exeter, on beautiful red soils. The farm was intensive arable but converted to organic 20 years ago. He started the brand ‘Shillingford Organics’ and the farm now grows and markets a whole variety of Organic vegetables, salads and herbs for year-round production as well as Organic cereals and apples. The farm now employs 9 people.

We sell our produce locally and as fresh as possible. We do this through our box scheme/online shop and at Exeter Farmers Market. Our aim is to be an integral part of our local community. We run a series of open days and have established a ‘Farm School’, giving people an opportunity to engage with growing food and nature.

Laurence Couldrick

Dr Laurence Couldrick is Chief Executive Officer of the Westcountry Rivers Trust and has been pioneering catchment management for 18 years. Over that time he has developed several multi-million pound projects and long term funding streams to deliver improvements across multiple catchments including developing Payments for Ecosystem Service schemes for water quality, flood risk and carbon offsetting.

David Rickwood

David, has been site manager for the Woodland Trust on Dartmoor since 2013.   Covering a portfolio of around 1000 hectares across seven woodland complexes, these are predominately ancient woodland sites dominated by commercial conifer planted in the 20th century. The main focus of activity is the restoration of the ancient woodland, the richest terrestrial habitat in the UK.  

David has been at the forefront of developing a partnership with the  National Trust on Dartmoor. The focus has been looking at ways of delivering a landscape scale vision for nature as identified in the government white paper written by  Professor John Lawton “Making Space for Nature in 2010” . This stated  “ With the effects of climate change and other pressures on our land, now is the time to see how we can enhance ecological England further. Linking together areas to make ecological corridors and a connected network, could have real benefits in allowing nature to thrive.”

Between 2001 and 2006  David was the Rural Development Forestry Advisor for the South West Forest project in  North Devon and North Cornwall. The project created nearly 3500 hectares of new woodland with private landowners. The woods created were focused on the objectives of the landowners. Both broadleaf and conifer were planted and over a period 9 years this became the largest woodland creation project in England outside of the National Forest in the past 20 years.

Key Points Summary

Key Outcomes

  • We need a Devon Land Use Framework a strategic plan to assess and bring regional coherence to implications of land use choices, helping to resolve conflicts of land use, bringing key partners together.
  • We need greater education and knowledge transfer so that people are informed at all levels.
  • We need to establish carbon offsetting verification mechanisms for Devon, to incentivise and fund carbon sequestration – Devon Carbon investment platform.
  • Processing and markets for local timber need to be enhanced.
  • Local food supply chains need greater support in the form of provision of distribution and retail hubs and public procurement.
  • Tools -We need to know what ours baselines are and what tools we should be using. We need to be able to have comparable data and methods for quantification.
  • Lobby for national clarification of farming subsidies and alignment of subsidies and national legislation with need to achieve net zero carbon and nature recovery.

Key Actions

Establish a Devon Land Use Framework to align action on nature recovery, carbon sequestration, agriculture and all other land uses incl. renewables and built environment.


  • Cost to develop and maintain
  • Who to develop and maintain?
  • Complexity

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Lots of the info for the land use framework is available already e.g. …. Ecological Site Classification, Forestry commission sensitivity maps.
  • Use must be integrated with first-hand knowledge of the land.
  • Could ensure framework for offsetting for new developments so not piecemeal.
  • Ensure farmer involvement in developing so that it is not perceived as an imposition.
  1. Valuing services from land; nature; biodiversity, resilience, carbon sequestration and soil fertility.
  2. Lobby for alignment of subsidies and national legislation with need to achieve net zero carbon and nature recovery.
  3. Defining agricultural and land use practices which merit public funding support and embodying these in new ELMs (Environmental Land Management) schemes funded nationally using whole farm approach.
  4. Establishing carbon offsetting mechanisms to sequester residual carbon emissions from activities that have no viable alternative.
  5. Establishing measurement for carbon sequestration


  • Costs and difficulty of establishing agreed practices eg agro-ecology approach, reduction of fertilizer/pesticide application, hedgerow managements, restoration of peat bogs and wetland etc.
  • Costs to registering carbon offsetting schemes and confusing process.
  • Smaller projects not eligible for many existing carbon offsetting schemes.
  • We have no carbon units registered currently in Devon.
  • Carbon sinks can be quickly lost through land use change.
  • Lack of tools for establishing baselines for carbon sinks in landscape.
  • Leadership deficit.
  • Measuring carbon sequestration could be expensive and v variable, even within a field. Overdependence of funding on carbon could ead to loss of biodiversity and resilience.
  • Sequestration per annum in vegetation needs to be estimated accurately.
  • Controversy over whether offsets should be sold privately or sequestration funded as part of move to zero carbon Devon.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Funding to set up carbon sequestration accreditation systems locally: creation of Devon carbon investment platform – economy of scale. Speak with Environment Bank?
  • Creation of a carbon guarantee – a guaranteed price for carbon.
  • Creation of a realistic level of support for defined practices nationally
  • Many habitats in Devon with potential for accreditation and codes as verifiable carbon sinks: Woodland carbon code, Peat code, culm grassland.
  • Devon Scheme must recognise smaller offsetting projects not too bureaucratic and at lower cost to ease uptake.
  • Any regional payments must be informed by national situation
  • Farm tenancies to include clauses specifying care for natural capital (metrics) to reward carbon sequestration and soil fertility
  • Carbon tax suggested in both sessions, but concerns expressed about intensifying land use, and that no room in food system for more tax. Alternatively, guide price suggested for carbon (between £60 and £200/tonne) for farm support.


  • Nuance needed
  • Resistance to reduced numbers of livestock – both producers and consumers.
  • Uncertainty around what are sustainable levels of livestock.
  • Some land more suited to pasture than arable or horticulture, though potential for regeneration and sequestration Perception that reducing feed inputs may lead to reduced profit per land, though this not necessarily accurate

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Kind of livestock – utilise breeding research
  • Management of livestock e.g. utilise feed research, for methane reduction.
  • Less input intensive livestock management, e.g. pasture fed Polluter pays principle – negative social & environmental impact of intensive farms on immediate environment should be reflected in payments
  • Import charges reflect pollution cost of imported meat


  • Lack of dissemination of research and knowledge on what is working well in farming.
  • Lack of availability of support and tools for farmers and land users: Soil Organic Matter Tool wanted.
  • Soil erosion & subsequent water pollution – increased risks due to increased rainfall & intense rainfall events.
  • Environment Agency underfunded, understaffed and unable to carry out any enforcement re pollution of water courses, ploughing steep slopes etc.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Increase carbon averages over the landscape via increased soil carbon.
  • Incentivise farmers to improve their soils – benchmarked against how soil should be.
  • Be comfortable with a degree of uncertainty when accrediting soil carbon credits.
  • Increase support for farmers. Facilitate farmers to share best practice e.g. use of diverse leys, use of clover, better rotations, cropping choices – relatively quick to change and little capital infrastructure investment required. e.g. soils for profit scheme, soil alliance.
  • Identify areas where tillage is not sustainable or where particular soil management practices are not sustainable.
  • Encourage no till methods where feasible.
  • Natural capital accounting and reporting as a requirement for farmers and farm advisors– two balance sheets – financial and natural capital to incorporate value of natural capital into land value. Natural capital balance sheet to provide baseline data on each farm.
  • Inclusion of flood attenuation in ELMs – being tried through regenerating degraded grassland land in N Devon
  • Process suggestion for regeneration of degraded land from Andy Bell of AONB: 1) Consult with community about what they want 2) Visit to farms with business and environment advisor 3) Once decided what farmer action likely/appropriate, identify whether there is a gap requiring to be met by funding
  • Share best practice for how and when to and when not to travel on soils on farm – improve soil structure.
  • Share grazing best practice to build soils.
  • Funding for non till drilling machinery for farmers.
  • Regulations to enable sanctions if soil loss is excessive with better funding for EA to enable enforcement


  • Diversity can be more complex to manage

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Encourage diversity of planting for resilience – trees and crops.


  • Lack of access to land for would-be small producers with sustainable methods (i.e. not excluding county farms but different from these)
  • Lack of business skills and advice

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Clearer planning conditions for low impact dwellings with lower minimum income threshold (reflecting lower cost of living on land through meeting many of own needs).
  • DCC to adopt and recommend to districts and DNP and ENP a better one planet planning policy.
  • DCC to acquire more County farms for smallholdings with low carbon conditions attached. Starter units supported by community businesses (cf Tamar Grow Local)
  • Availability of small tenancies with long leases (as from some estates at present
  • Land value tax – increase availability of land – but reduced or eliminated to allow for carbon sequestration.


  • Creating markets for local timber – local processing. The skills to manage, the machinery.
  • Diverse tree planting needed for resilience but more challenging to manage economically.
  • Lack of funding to manage the trees once they are planted.
  • Current relationship of land value with tree planting problematic – higher land value = lower planting. Also you reduce the value of the land by planting trees on it – bank manager might not like it.
  • Environmental impact on view.
  • Loss of subsidies for taking land out of production.
  • Current separation of farm support payments between a) productive land and b) tree planting or environmental benefit is unhelpful – these land uses can be combined shouldn’t have to select either or.
  • Grey squirrels – damage to trees planted.
  • Short farm tenancies off putting.
  • Flailing of hedges prevents natural regeneration of trees.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Interest in a South West forest.
  • Agroforestry: often opportunities around the margins of the farm.
  • Knowledge transfer: Soil Association FAB Farmers Scheme is showcasing examples of agroforestry + Organic Research Centre.
  • Silvo pasture – trees combined with grazing. Hedgerows have traditionally been part of livestock feed in Devon.
  • Encourage and incentivise farmers to allow trees in hedges to mature rather than be flailed. Create the right incentives & subsidy regime – changes to environmental payments vital.
  • Allow areas to re-wild – not all tree increases require active tree planting.
  • Longer farm tenancies needed to give stability and certainty, needed for perennial crops such as trees and long-term management of soils. Ash die back creates opportunities for our hedgerows as Ash replaced.
  • Our trees grow quicker than in other parts of the country.
  • Cull squirrels.
  • Reducing drainage esp. of uplands, -areas designated in Land Use Framework -and/or introduce beavers to slow water runoff and rewet land. (Helps reduce soil loss and flooding)
  • Enhance landscape resilience through wetland and river restoration
  • Reduce dredging


  • Farmers don’t receive feedback for impact of their measures
  • Current lack of funding for land going out of production – support needed see above

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Set up peat code.
  • Rewet peatbog.
  • Support for farm diversification/tourism based on environment & biodiversity e.g. birders, forest schools, pollinators. SUDS – in Somerset
  • Funding for environmental land management (see above)
  • Potential for catchment negotiations – downstream stakeholders remunerate upstream landholders for flood prevention – but tricky to establish direct link from measures to benefits


  • Cultural norms and attitudes to the landscape – e.g. expectations of how many trees we have in landscape and where.
  • Expectation that farmers will sequester the carbon overspill from the rest of our life activities and consumption habits.
  • Communities are declaring a climate emergency but then unsure what to do next.
  • Need for nuance in messages conveyed to public.
  • Lack of capacity in organisations with know-how for outreach and community work.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Encourage and enhance greater public desire for trees in landscape and greater awareness for need.
  • Connect with communities & give clear advice on how to act effectively in response to the climate emergency.
  • Create network of local ambassadors.
  • Increase capacity for organisations with knowledge and skills to advise communities.


  • Limited access by people on low wages and facing food poverty.
  • Access to local shops in some communities.

Overcoming the Barriers

  • Networks of local food hubs and distribution e.g. a covered market in Exeter with longer and more frequent opening hours.
  • Give producers distribution space in car parks – sheds etc.
  • Public procurement of local food.
  • National: Tackle drivers for need for low food prices, e.g. low wages& high cost of living.
  • Encourage changes in food consumption French e.g. of Day of Taste.

Download a PDF summary of the key outcomes here.

This video was live-streamed. A copy of the video is available on request by emailing: