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Grants and Funding

Agri-Environment Schemes in England

Environmental Stewardship is an agri-environment scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England to deliver effective environmental management. Environmental Stewardship is administered by Natural England

There are four elements to Environmental Stewardship:

Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) provides a straightforward approach to supporting the good stewardship of the countryside. This is done through simple and effective land management that goes beyond the Single Payment Scheme requirement to maintain land in good agricultural and environmental condition. It is open to all farmers and landowners.

More information on Entry Level Stewardship.

Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is the organic strand of ELS. It is geared to organic and organic/conventional mixed farming systems and is open to all farmers not receiving Organic Farming Scheme aid.

More information on Organic Entry Level Stewardship.

Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (UELS) was launched in February 2010 to support hill farmers with payments for environmental management. This strand of Environmental Stewardship succeeds the Hill Farm Allowance. It is open to all farmers with land in Severely Disadvantaged Areas, regardless of the size of the holding.

More information on Uplands Entry Level Stewardship.

Under ELSOELS and UELS agreement holders can agree to cut their hedges on either a two or three year rotation, with restrictions on cutting dates and the minimum hedgerow height. They can also choose to encourage new hedgerow trees. In addition under UELS points can be earned for hedge laying and gapping up, as well as for earth bank and stone-facing restoration.

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) involves more complex types of management. Agreements aim to deliver significant environmental benefits in high priority situations and areas. Management is tailored to local circumstances and agreements offered where they meet these targets and represent good value for money.

More information on Higher Level Stewardship.

Under HLS agreement holders can receive payments for laying, coppicing and planting hedges, and also for managing their hedges to benefit particular species like dormouse.

Uptake Hedgerow Options in ELS and HLS

Environmental Stewardship: a briefing on the uptake of hedgerow options within ELS and HLS and how the schemes may be changed to improve their effectiveness in helping farmers to deliver more for hedgerows.

Key messages

The UK Hedgerow Habitat Action Plan Group (Hedgelink) welcomes the high level of uptake by farmers and other land managers of hedgerow options within Environmental Stewardship (ES). To deliver more for hedgerow biodiversity and the many ecosystem services provided by hedgerows we urge:

  1. That expenditure should be shifted in favour of payments for hedge laying, coppicing and planting. If the current rate of hedgerow loss due to inappropriate management is to be stemmed, and the generally poor condition of surviving hedges improved, it is essential that financial incentives should be available to many more farmers for these critical management activities.
  2. That there should be further encouragement towards those cutting options which deliver most for the environment (eg cutting on a three year cycle).

Download the documents

Hedgelink’s Environmental Stewardship and Hedgerows Briefing (.doc 105 KB)
Environmental Stewardship Hedgerow Options (.doc 31 KB)