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definition - Environmental_Stewardship

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Environmental Stewardship

                   
This page is on the agri-environment scheme; for the general concept, see Ecological stewardship

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.

Contents

  Entry Level Stewardship

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.

  Organic Entry Level Stewardship

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.[1]

  Higher Level Stewardship

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.

  Upland Entry Level Stewardship

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.[2]

  Management options covered by the ELS, OELS, HLS and UELS schemes

  • Hedgerow maintenance options. Important for wildlife as shelter and a food source for animals, for example small birds, dormice. A historic and cultural landscape feature, acting as a barrier to livestock. Hedgerows can also act as pollinators for orchard trees, the nectar and pollen also being of benefit to invertebrates such as bees. The management options encourage the practice of trimming the hedgerows less frequently, to allow them to grow, thicken, and bear fruit. There are other requirements such as not trimming during the bird breeding season so that the nesting birds are not disturbed, and not applying fertiliser or pesticides within 2 metres of them, to encourage wildlife biodiversity. The growth and protection of hedgerow trees is also encouraged under these options.
  • Dry stone walling maintenance options. Important for similar reasons to hedgerows, including habitat for lichen, mosses and ferns.
  • In field trees. Important habitat for animals, lichen etc. Even if the tree is dead it can offer habitat for birds and bats. Management options include not cultivating under the canopy of the tree, which helps to protect its roots.
  • Woodland. Options to encourage structural diversity within and at the edges as many wildlife cannot tolerate a simple structure. Also options to let light into the woodland to help the understory develop.
  • Historical Orchard maintenance and creation.
  • Archaeological sites, traditional farmland buildings and designed landscapes such as parkland. Options to help protect and in the case of the buildings and landscape, restore them.
  • Buffer strips, field corners, Beetle banks and field margins. Uncultivated grass areas, without fertiliser or pesticide application, these offer the growth of habitat for wildlife. They are also used to buffer watercourses, ponds or wild habitat from adjacent fields from intensive agricultural operations.
  • Bird seed and nectar bearing crops. The latter for nectar feeding insections such as bees and butterflies.
  • Options to encourage the stubble of harvested crops to be left over winter. This provides a

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.

  • Where a winter crop is sown, there is an option to create unsown areas. These are beneficial to skylark birds that nest in vegetation less than 50 cm high.
  • Prevention of Soil erosion from converting steep slope arable land to grassland, and growing maize crops during the summer.
  • Reducing or eliminating fertilser and pesticice inputs on grassland and arable land, to increase species diversity.
  • Maintaining and creating species rich grassland
  • Encouraging mixed stock, e.g. sheep and cattle in the same field to encourage species diversity. This is because they graze to different levels, have different trampling effects, and their faeces can attract invertebrates.
  • Access footpaths and payments for educational tours around farms.
  • Maintenance and creation of ponds

  Objectives

Environmental Stewardship has a number of wide ranging objectives, which include:-

  External links

  References

  1. ^ Organic Entry Level Stewardship Handbook second edition. Natural England. 2008. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-84754-081-3|978-1-84754-081-3]]. 
  2. ^ Environmental Stewardship Scheme details on Natural England Website
   
               

 

All translations of Environmental_Stewardship


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