Paying farmers to restore natural habitat on England’s least productive land would both boost their income and increase wild bird populations by almost 50% by 2050, according to a new study.

Environmental think tank Green Alliance is calling for the Government to allocate £600 million of the £2.4 billion annual farming budget to restoring peatland, heathland and woodland.

The poorest quality land produces just 0.5% of the food we eat, and in its study Green Alliance found incentivising farmers to return it to nature would boost their income from it by 20%.