Environmental stewardship is an agri-environment scheme which provides funding to land managers and farmers for delivering effective environmental management of the land. The scheme has a number of objectives including:
- Conserve wildlife (biodiversity)
- Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
- Protect the historic environment and natural resources
- Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
- Protect natural resources.
Environmental stewardship schemes encompass whole farm management with farmers and land managers being awarded points from a menu of environmental enhancement type activities including maintaining hedges, buffering important wildlife areas, protecting woodland and planting trees.
There are three elements to Environmental Stewardship:
- Entry Level Stewardship (ELS):
- Open to all farmers and landowners
- Simple and effective land management
- Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS):
- Organic strand of ELS
- Open to all farmers not receiving Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) aid
- Higher Level Stewardship (HLS):
- Targeted environmental management
- Capital work plans
Full details on grants and the application process can be found in the ES Guidance Handbooks which can be ordered from the Rural Development Services or down loaded from the DEFRA or Natural England websites.