Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits society gets from the natural environment. These include cultural services such as the conservation of biodiversity and people’s enjoyment of the countryside, regulating services, such as flood protection, clean air and water and provisioning services such as the production of food, timber and other resources. Many of these services are provided by agricultural land. Farmers are rewarded for the provisioning services by the market, but Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a major source of funding that helps farmers maintain and enhance the cultural and regulatory services that their land provides.
The Natural Environment White Paper identified the need to increase food production whilst protecting, enhancing and linking biodiversity and landscapes. To meet this challenge, land managers need to have a better understanding of the complex relationships between the different ecosystem services that farmland can potentially provide. This research was commissioned to identify the ecosystem services which ES (the main agri-environment scheme in England) helps to provide.