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Agriculture and Forestry Impacts NHPP Activity 2D1

Research carried out 2011-2015 into reducing the threat posed by modern agriculture and forestry practices on England’s heritage. This work formed part of the National Heritage Protection Plan.

Aerial view of a tractor pulling a plough which clips the remains of barrows.
Ploughing clipping barrows near Winterbourne Martin, Dorset © English Heritage

Scope of the activity

Whilst Agriculture and Forestry practices are important parts of the nation’s life, they are a serious threat to England’s heritage. They affect buried archaeology (for example through plough damage) and built heritage (for example through making some types of rural buildings redundant). Scheduled sites as well as undesignated sites can be at risk.

Intended protection results

  • To have better data about the risk and have mitigation strategies for rural archaeological heritage
  • Greater integration of the needs of the historic environment within Defra and Natural England land management policies
  • A prioritised strategy for action on the Government rural estate affected by disposal or major planting /harvesting
  • Effective Guidance for Management and Change of Traditional Farm Buildings
  • Generally reduce the threat and negative effects from agricultural practices

Projects in this Activity

COSMIC: Conservation of Scheduled Monuments in Cultivation.

We worked together with Natural England to identify and prioritise scheduled archaeology that is at risk of damage or loss from arable farming. The project will give farmers and heritage managers realistic options for managing the archaeology so that they can reduce negative effects of farming.  The project used questionnaires for farmers, desk based research, aerial photography and ground penetrating radar (Lidar) to gather and assess information. We now have better data about the risk and have some mitigation strategies for rural archaeological heritage, although this is better for arable areas than for the overall agricultural and forestry regime. You can download the report about the COSMIC project findings.

Turning the Plough update: Turning the Plough 2

This project gave a new update on a survey of surviving ridge and furrow Medieval field landscapes in the East Midlands, originally carried out in 1999. It uses aerial photographs and satellite images to see what now survives- and to help judge what positive effect conservation initiatives such as Environmental Stewardship schemes have had. You can read the Turning the Plough 2 report on the Historic England website.

Revision of National Character Area statements

This is an ongoing partnership project between English Heritage and Natural England to review Natural England’s National Character Area statements. Land managers, communities and developers can use these profiles of distinct natural areas to help make decisions about sustainable change.

Selected Heritage Inventory for Natural England (SHINE)

SHINE- the Selected Heritage Inventory for Natural England, is a joint project between Natural England, the Association of local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) and English Heritage.

It aims to create a single consistent set of data about undesignated historic environment features across England. The main project is near completion and is now working on integrating SHINE data into online consultation about the application process for the Higher Level Stewardship scheme. Find out more about SHINE.

Revision of traditional farm buildings guidance

We have revised our guidance on revision of traditional farm buildings in the light of the National Planning Policy Framework and complementary work on farmsteads under Activity 4F1.

Woodland burial study

This was a project in partnership with the Forestry Commission to look at how land use affects the preservation of buried archaeological remains. The project finished in 2012.

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