Earlier this week, Defra announced the projects which were successful in applying for round two of the Landscape Recovery Scheme – one of the three Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs). A total of 34 projects have been awarded funding, with Defra confirming that the scheme has a budget of £25m.
The successful projects were announced as part of the UK Government’s pledge to boost Britain’s access to nature ahead of COP28, which also included a commitment to creating a new National Park, a new National Forest and two more Community Forests. The government also committed £15m for supporting existing National Parks and National Landscapes (previously known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or AONBs) in England.
How Landscape Recovery works
Unlike the other ELM schemes, there are no payment rates in Landscape Recovery. The aim is to create a long term, large scale environmental improvement, funded by a blend of public and private finance. This might involve funding from schemes like Countryside Stewardship (CS) or Farming in Protected Landscapes, or from selling credits through Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) or other natural capital markets. In the last round, projects are already looking into other ways of attracting finance, like ecotourism or marketing agricultural products.
Successful projects in round two will receive up to £750,000 (depending on the amount they bid for) to fund a range of activities that will help access private finance. Although this will vary from project to project, it is likely to involve baseline habitat surveys, getting legal agreements in place, and engaging with the community.
We know that members who have not been successful will be disappointed, and encourage you to look into other funding options, like the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, which had its third round announced at the recent CLA Rural Business Conference. This £5m fund offers individual grants up to £100,000 to support farmers to prepare nature projects that will help attract investment from the private sector. There will also be a third round of Landscape Recovery opening for applications in 2024, with the specific details yet to be confirmed.
We are in the process of analysing the make-up of the successful projects. In round one, around two-thirds of projects were led by environmental non-government organisations (eNGOs); the rest were farm clusters with two single estate projects. However, a requirement of Landscape Recovery is that the wider area and community is engaged, and meeting the minimum area requirement of 500 hectares means that even the projects led by eNGOs will involve landowners.
How the CLA can help
For more information on the funding options you might want to explore, contact your CLA regional office or the Land Use team in London.
Whether your project was successful or not, you may be interested in the ongoing CLA Natural Capital Roadshows, which cover the opportunities available to landowners both through government schemes and private markets, along with the legal and tax considerations.