The Duke of Cornwall has shown a strong personal interest in environmental issues for decades. The long history of the Duchy and the Duke’s own commitment to pass the estate down to his successors in a better and stronger condition requires a long-term stewardship approach.
With this in mind, His Royal Highness ensures that sustainable development, environmental and agricultural best practice, and working in partnership with tenants and communities, are at the heart of the Duchy’s management approach. The Duchy also works in partnership with a number of environmental organisations such as the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Forum for the Future, the Soil Association and English Nature.
The Duchy actively encourages its tenants to practice conservation alongside commercial farming. It does this by spreading information on best practice and responsibilities under environmental legislation, encouraging high levels of biodiversity, and raising awareness of the principles of organic farming, and the potential of other agri-environment schemes. Good land management is encouraged, and the Duchy supports the reduction and recycling of waste.
The Duke, who believes that climate change is everyone’s responsibility, is committed to improving further the environmental performance of the Duchy Estate. At His Royal Highness’s request, the Duchy is working to deliver a strategy for carbon neutrality throughout the organisation.
For the past five years a ‘conservation practices’ schedule has been included in all new farm tenancy agreements. In Herefordshire, and elsewhere, a Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group whole farm conservation report is commissioned prior to any farm re-letting. The conclusions from this are used in drawing up the tenancy agreement.
The Duchy does not support the growing of genetically modified crops on its farms, and a clause stating this has been included in all new farm agreements. Indeed, in 1986 The Duke himself put his own organic aspirations into practice when he converted Duchy Home Farm at Highgrove. Today, Home Farm is one of the leading organic farms in the country and is used to demonstrate to others the principles of sustainability and organic farming.
The Duchy Stewardship Scheme
The stewardship of the Duchy’s land and property is guided by environmental integrity, concern for the physical and social fabric of the estate, and the economic sustainability of generating an income for current and future Dukes. The Duchy constantly reviews its environmental profile and sets realistic targets, which can be monitored and assessed.
In 1996, The Duke established his Habitat Award Scheme for Duchy farm tenants. The awards recognise schemes where management and husbandry practices have been adopted for their sensitivity to the natural environment while also meeting the tenets of good husbandry and financial viability.
Conservation and Amenity
Each year, the Duchy invests in conservation and amenity projects, which are to the benefit of the natural environment. The projects include Countryside Stewardship Schemes, amenity tree planting, stone walling, lake and pond restoration works, repairs to buildings using traditional materials such as cob and the protection of ground-nesting wader birds.