18 March 2011
Environmental Stewardship, the agri-environment scheme in England, was introduced in 2005.
The scheme has two tiers: Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), which all farmers are eligible to join, and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), which is competitive and geographically targeted to achieve maximum environmental benefit.
Environmental Stewardship has five main objectives:
- Public Access
- Historic Environment
- Wildlife Conservation
- Natural Resource Protection
In addition, there are two secondary objectives:
- Flood Management
- Genetic Conservation
The two-tier approach allows all farmers to access funding for wildlife-friendly farming while allowing further targeting of funding for management of priority habitats and species.
Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) forms the basis of Environmental Stewardship. ELS is a 'broad and shallow' scheme, compensating farmers for carrying out a range of cheap and simple measures across their farm. More...
The Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS) requires farmers to carry out a more demanding, advisor-led package of habitat management designed to deliver significant environmental benefits in high-priority areas. More...
Before the introduction of Environmental Stewardship, the schemes available in England were Countryside Stewardship (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). Both these schemes are now closed to new entrants, but individual agreements are still running.
The priority now must be to ensure that when good quality agreements end, the benefits they have delivered are protected and allowed to continue. It is essential that the best quality classic scheme agreements are moved into HLS.