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Environmental Stewardship is an agri-environment scheme run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in England. It was formally launched on 18 March 2005, although the first agreements did not start until 1 August 2005.
The scheme, which replaces the older Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Area schemes, is composed of two levels - the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) for Organic farms, Upland Entry Level Stewardship (UELS) comprising the lower levels; and the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) for the upper level.
Anyone who owns, farms or manages agricultural land can apply to take out an ELS agreement by contacting the appropriate regional office of Natural England by letter or phone. Online applications for ELS are also available.
Applicants for an ELS agreement will receive a scheme handbook in addition to the application pack. The handbook details the options for management that the farmer can choose to apply on their land. Each option carries a points score, either per agreement (for example for completing the mandatory Farm Environment Record (FER)), per hectare (e.g. grassland management), per metre (e.g. hedgerow management) or per feature (e.g. in-field trees). The scheme is non-competitive, so provided the grand total of the points is at least equal to 30 points per hectare averaged over the farm (i.e. for a 100 hectare farm 3000 points are required) then the application will become an agreement. All agreements are paid at a flat rate of £30 per hectare per year, and last 5 years.
The schemes have undergone one revision with the second edition booklets currently being used for agreements. A second revision and third edition booklets will be used from February 2010.
This is very similar in nature to the Entry Level Scheme, except that it covers organic land only. Most of the options are the same in ELS and OELS, but some that are not appropriate (e.g. reduced artificial fertiliser inputs) are omitted. Like ELS the agreements last 5 years, but OELS land is paid at £60/hectare. It is possible to combine OELS with regular ELS on farms with a mixture of organic and conventionally farmed land.
As the name suggests this is more targeted than (O)ELS, and not all land is eligible. It is designed to offer more support to more active and environmentally beneficial management practices. Unlike ELS it also offers grants for capital works, such as the restoration of traditional farm buildings. All HLS agreements must be underpinned with basic management from an ELS or OELS agreement, but in contrast to these schemes the agreement lasts 10 years. All agreements start at one of four start dates at three-monthly intervals through the year. The first HLS agreements started on 1 February 2006. The delay in the launch of HLS was a result of problems with the department's computer system, "Genesis", built by Atos Origin.
The application procedure is basically the same as for ELS but, due to the added complexity and competitiveness of the scheme and its highly targeted nature, a visit from a Natural England advisor is required. The payment received for HLS agreements is dependent on the precise options chosen, rather than a flat rate.
Is a new scheme following the same format as the entry level stewardship schemes, which will be launched in 2010, with the first agreements running from 1 July 2010. It will replace the 'Hill Farm Allowance Scheme', a DEFRA and RPA run scheme.
winter food source for seed-eating birds,from spilt grain and the seeds of broadleaved weeds. They are also a habitat for Brown Hares, and early breeding site for ground-nesting birds such as lapwing and curlew.
Environmental Stewardship has a number of wide ranging objectives, which include:-
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