A new, collaborative way of farmers working together in Dorset has been launched.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has supported the establishment of the new group, 'The Brit and Hooke Facilitation Fund', where farmers and landowners in west Dorset will discuss land management, farm business and wildlife conservation issues, plus opportunities arising from Brexit.

Farmers within five neighbouring river catchments, including the Hooke and Brit, are going to be working together to benefit farm businesses and secure environment gain in west Dorset.

The group has received funding from Natural England and is the only one of its kind in Dorset.

The total farm holdings of the group cover more than 4,800 hectares and encompass four nationally protected sites, totalling 329 hectares (813 acres), plus a further 12 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

The successful application to Natural England was determined by a shared goal to deliver business and environmental improvements and a willingness to work together.

Leading the way are the group's coordinator, Alex Butler from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group south west (FWAGsw), alongside DWT's conservation officer, Nick Gray.

Mr Butler said: "With Brexit looming on the horizon it is an uncertain time for the farming industry. This funding has provided an opportunity to share and spread knowledge and could lead to new ways of working post Brexit that will benefit farmers and the environment."

Mr Gray added: "Dorset Wildlife Trust is delighted to partner FWAGsw in this initiative, it is an area where we have a long-standing history of working with the farmers, and they have some fantastic habitats on their land.

"This sort of group working is very much in-line with policy emerging from the new agriculture proposals currently being reviewed in government.

"The government paper highlights the crucial role farmers play in maintaining public goods such as biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage, health and wellbeing."

The new agricultural policies will be operating outside of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which currently provides funding through direct payments based on area farmed through the Basic Payment Scheme and Rural Development finding.

Outside of the CAP reform process, policies can be tailored to UK priorities and farming systems.

The new agriculture bill, announced in the Queen's speech, intended to provide stability for farmers and measures to protect the natural environment.