Launch of Landscape Recovery pilot application

CLA Land Use Policy Adviser Harry Greenfield blogs on the launch of the Landscape Recovery pilot application

Following the announcement last month of more details on the new Landscape Recovery scheme, applications are now open for the first pilots of the scheme.

Landscape Recovery is one of the three Environmental Land Management schemes being developed as successors to the Common Agricultural Policy schemes. The scheme will pay for large-scale projects, from 500 to 5000 hectares, which engage in and deliver ambitious environmental outcomes, and which are likely to involve changes in land use. The scheme will focus initially on biodiversity, water quality and net zero and projects are likely to involve habitat creation and restoration, tree planting and peatland restoration.

The scheme is open to individual landowners or partnerships between multiple landowners and other organisations.

The scheme will begin with a number of pilot projects over the next two years, with rounds of applications focused on different environmental themes. The first round opened for applications on 1 February and will remain open until 24 May 2022. There are expected to be up to 15 successful projects in this round.

Round one focuses on two themes, supporting projects that help:

  • recover threatened native species, restore priority habitats, improve habitat quality, and increase species abundance
  • restore streams and rivers, improve water quality and biodiversity, and adapt to climate change.

Projects should also provide additional benefits such as contributing to net zero. The application process is competitive based on a set of criteria. Examples of projects that could apply include:

  • build, expand or link nature reserves
  • create and improve woodland
  • develop a mosaic of habitats
  • restore water bodies, rivers, and floodplains to a more natural state
  • improve bogs, fens or saltmarshes

As set out in a previous blog, projects that are successful in the first stage of the application will receive funding for project development to work out the details of how the land will be managed, the legal agreements needed and details of payments and agreement monitoring. This means that the initial application is likely to focus on the land the project will take place on, the people/partners involved, and the environmental objectives of the project.

Once the details of the project are developed, an implementation agreement will be agreed with Defra. It is expected that this will be a minimum of 20 years long and will set out the details of how the land will be managed and what payments are made. Applicants will also be supported to seek private sector funding for the project to combine with the funding from Defra.

Landscape Recovery will not be suitable for all land managers, given the scale of project involved and the 20-year minimum length of agreement. It will be open to farmer clusters and other groups of land managers and may be an option for some. Once the scheme has been piloted in coming years, there may be scope for those who have been in the Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship or the new Local Nature Recovery schemes, to go further and enter into Landscape Recovery.

An overview of the scheme is on the Defra website
Applications are open now via Defra’s eSourcing Portal, which also has further guidance.

For anyone interested in the scheme, please do get in touch with the CLA’s Senior Policy Adviser Harry Greenfield. We would also be interested to hear from those who do apply to hear about the experience.

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