THREE farms are set to feature on BBC’s Countryfile this weekend to show conservation work in action.

Fordingbridge-based conservation science charity the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) recently invited the show to visit three farms on the Hampshire/Dorset border.

The farms are part of the Martin Down “supercluster” – a collaboration of three “farmer clusters” made up of 46 farms which together cover 236km2 of the Cranborne Chase area of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, surrounding the Martin Down National Nature Reserve.

Farmer Clusters are groups of neighbouring farmers who work together to deliver benefits for soil, water and wildlife at a landscape scale.

The Martin Down farmers showcased the farmer cluster concept and some of their many conservation achievements for the Countryfile cameras.

Lead farmer Tim Palmer, said: “We were delighted to welcome Countryfile to hear about what we’ve been working on at Martin Down with our facilitator, the GWCT’s Jess Brooks. Thanks to the farmers’ own commitment and enthusiasm, it is amazing what we have achieved in four short years.”

Presenter Ellie Harrison helped one of the farmers create a drinking puddle for turtle doves.

The GWCT’s Jess Brooks set out some of the cluster’s achievements. She said: “They have stabilised turtle dove numbers, doubled the populations of wild grey partridges and corn buntings, and increased butterfly species numbers on their farmland by a third. On these 12 farms alone, we have created over 85 hectares of new wildlife habitat, dozens of new ponds and puddles, and 10km of new hedgerows and beetle banks. This sort of work is being replicated on the other farms within the supercluster and on farmer clusters across the UK. It is very rewarding to see how quickly we have made a difference at a landscape scale.”

The Countryfile episode will be broadcast at 6pm on Sunday.

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