Environmentalists are now coming to recognise the links between wildlife and farming systems, and to see that many valued habitats can only be maintained by developing new environmentally orientated farming practices.
Early farming and pastoral systems may have largely worked within the existing environment, rather than against it, and in many cases would have actually increased biodiversity. It has been estimated that biodiversity in southern England peaked in the mid-18th century, during the 'first wave of modernity', but has since declined as farming systems have become more intensive and specialised.
To develop a realistic environmental policy, a detailed typology of farming systems is needed, relating wildlife and biological attributes to broad management practices. Such a typology should map the distribution of each system and describe its historical development, and then attempt to predict its future under different policy options. The better understanding that this would generate would also help to build an effective partnership between farmers and conservationists.