Countryside Stewardship

What is Countryside Stewardship?

Countryside Stewardship is a type of agri-environment scheme which promotes environmentally friendly land management practices. The schemes are designed to achieve landscape-scale nature restoration while also supporting sustainable food production.

CS supports the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ 25 Year Environment Plan ‘for our country to be the healthiest, most beautiful place in the world to live, work and bring up a family’. It also supports Defra’s strategic objective of ‘a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy’.

What are the objectives of countryside stewardship?

The primary goal of CS schemes is to restore and conserve UK landscapes. They incentivise landowners and farmers to implement practices that improve soil quality, conserve resources, and create habitats for wildlife. Initiatives included within CS schemes span planting hedgerows, managing wetlands, and habitat creation.

Promoting biodiversity is also a key aspect of the schemes. Landowners and land managers are often required to set aside areas for wildlife habitat creation. This can include activities like the creation of wildflower meadows, nesting sites for birds and planting certain pollinator-friendly species.

When it comes to soil, Countryside Stewardship encourages responsible land management practices to reduce erosion, improve quality, and minimise pollution of water bodies from soil runoff. Farmers are incentivised to use regenerative practices such as cover crops, no-till farming, and establishment of buffer strips in riparian areas.

The schemes also promote regenerative agriculture by encouraging the use of organic farming methods and other practices such as crop rotation. Additionally, responsible pesticide and fertiliser application is required and mixed farming systems that incorporate both livestock and crops is encouraged.

Talk to our team today to discuss your agri-environment scheme options.

How does it affect farmers and land owners?

Participating landowners receive financial incentives, grants, or annual payments for implementing and maintaining specified environmental practices mentioned above. The level of payment varies depending on the type and scale of the project.

The schemes involve farmers and landowners typically entering into agreements with the government or a related agencies for a set period (usually five years or more) to implement and maintain the agreed-upon practices. These agreements are legally binding and subject to regulation by government bodies.

Farmers and landowners must apply for CS schemes, and stringent eligibility criteria applies. The application process itself involves demonstrating how the proposed practices will benefit the environment and meet specific scheme requirements such as habitat creation and responsible land management.

Regular, ongoing monitoring is conducted to ensure that participants are complying with the terms of their agreements and that the agreed-upon practices are being properly implemented.

Balancing nature recovery with business viability ensures returns for nature and for you.

Aim Wilder
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