Prince Charles: Farming is a mystery to many Britons

Prince Charles Image copyright PA

The Prince of Wales has expressed his concern that many Britons have "only a vague understanding" of farming.

Prince Charles outlines his worries for the future of the countryside in a foreword for Country Life magazine to mark his 66th birthday on Friday.

He warns that the population has lost "any real connection with the land" and urged people to value the landscapes or risk losing them.

"We need to find a way to put a value on our countryside," he adds.

Country Life editor Mark Hedges said: "The Prince has a deep understanding and connection with every aspect of people working and living in rural Britain."

'Natural tapestry'

The Prince of Wales writes: "People in the UK are now four or more generations removed from anyone who actually worked on the land - and it frequently shows in their attitudes.

"They are increasingly suspicious of it. At the same time, they treasure the countryside.

"The rich, natural tapestry that is the countryside we value so highly does not just happen by itself. But that delicately woven tapestry is facing unprecedented challenges.

In his article, Prince Charles stresses the benefits of the countryside's "ecosystem services" - with meadows and grasslands storing tonnes of carbon, providing homes for pollinating insects, supporting the agricultural economy and beauty spots attracting visitors to boost local tourism.

"Start pulling out the threads and the rest unravels very rapidly indeed. and is very difficult to put back again - no farmers, no beautiful landscapes with hedgerows and stone walls; no thriving rural communities, no villages - or village pubs; no local markets, no distinctive local foods," he writes.

The Countryside Fund, which was established by Prince Charles in 2010, has provided more than £4m in grants to those who care for the countryside, helping more than 80,000 people and 140 communities.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that Britain's farms were the "powerhouse of the economy" and added: "Prince Charles is right that we need to value our countryside and protect it for generations to come."

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