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Sheep in summer heather at Coverdale by Wendy McDonnell

Environmental Land Management Schemes

There are 3 new schemes under Environmental Land Management, these are;

  • The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)
  • Local Nature Recovery (LNR)
  • Landscape Recovery (LR)

These schemes are intended to support the rural economy while achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.

Through these schemes, farmers and other land managers may enter into agreements to be paid for delivery of public goods such as:

  • Clean and plentiful water
  • Clean air
  • Thriving plants and wildlife
  • Protection from environmental hazards
  • Reduction of and adaptation to climate change
  • Beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)

SFI is the first of the three new environmental land management schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan.

SFI has a rolling application window- no deadlines- and agreements will last 3 years with payments being made quarterly. Every 12 months from your start date you can add more standards, add more land, and/or increase levels within standards. Applications are made online via the Rural Payments Service.

SFI opens with the following standards, you can find out more on each by clicking on the links.

In future, more standards will be available to choose from- view the indicative list and timeframes here.

You can apply for existing capital items funding offers on land parcels entered into an SFI standards agreement, such as Countryside Stewardship capital grants. In the future SFI will include capital items funding.

Read more about the SFI, including how to do the actions for each of the standards levels,  guidance on applying, and guidance on how SFI interacts with other funding schemes here.

Local Nature Recovery (LNR)

The Local Nature Recovery scheme (LNR) will pay for actions that support local nature recovery and meet local environmental priorities, alongside food production. It is the improved and more ambitious successor to the Countryside Stewardship scheme.

Examples of these actions could be:

  • Managing and creating habitats
  • Adding trees to fields or hedgerows, or
  • Restoring peat or wetland areas in appropriate areas of their farm

A Local Nature Recovery Strategy is currently being produced for the National Park. Our local environmental priorities are listed in our National Park Management Plan.

The scheme began piloting in 2022, and will fully launch in 2024.

It will complement the Sustainable Farming Incentive. Farmers will be able to enter into both schemes, provided the actions are compatible and we’re not paying for the same actions twice, building a tailored agreement that works for them. 

Read more about the Local Nature Recovery Scheme and its development here.

Local Nature Recovery aims to:

  • Provide a range of options (much like Countryside Stewardship), so that farmers can choose the right combination for their setting and preferences
  • Be straightforward to apply for and administer, building on the simplifications we’ve already made to Countryside Stewardship
  • Have a fairer and more proportionate system of checks and controls, rather than the punitive regime we’ve seen in the past
  • Support and reward people for working together to achieve outcomes
  • Work in a locally responsive way to support the right things being done in the right places (such as coastal habitat restoration in coastal areas or peatland restoration in areas with peat)
  • Dovetail with private schemes and markets for high-quality, accredited environmental outcomes, ensuring that private finance is crowded in

Initial themes of LNR options:

  • Managing and restoring areas of upland and lowland peat and moorland on farms and in the wider countryside
  • Targeted measures to support the recovery and reintroduction of particular wildlife species, such as creating and managing nesting and feeding habitat, and to tackle non-native invasive species
  • Managing, restoring and creating grassland habitats such as species-rich grassland on farms and in the wider countryside
  • Managing, restoring and creating wetland habitats such as ponds, lakes, reedbeds and fens
  • Managing feeding, shelter and breeding areas for wildlife on arable farms
  • Managing, restoring and creating lowland heathland
  • managing, restoring and creating coastal habitats such as sand dunes, salt marsh and shingle
  • Managing and creating trees and woodlands, including agroforestry, traditional orchards and tree planting on areas of farms – noting that the England Woodland Creation Offer will be the main scheme for woodland creation until 2025
  • Nature-based solutions for water – such as creating and managing in-field vegetation, buffer strips and swales to reduce and filter runoff and contribute to natural flood management
  • Restoring rivers, flood plains, streams and riparian habitats

Landscape Recovery

The Landscape Recovery scheme will support landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term large-scale projects in England, such as:

  • Restoring wilder landscapes in places where it’s appropriate
  • Large-scale tree planting
  • Peatland and salt marsh restoration

These projects should also provide additional benefits, like contributing to net zero.

It is a competitive scheme. If successful, you will:

  • Receive funding for up to 2 years to help you prepare to deliver your project
  • Get help to secure private funding for long-term delivery
  • Be invited to negotiate a Landscape Recovery implementation agreement with Defra

Pilot Projects

The scheme has begun piloting 22 projects in 2022, and will fully launch in 2024. You can find out more about these pilot projects here.

The 2022 pilot projects focus on 2 themes:

  • Recover threatened native species, restore priority habitats, improve habitat quality, and increase species abundance
  • Restore streams and rivers, improve water quality and biodiversity, and adapt to climate change


All land managers and landowners are eligible to apply. This includes farmers and farm tenants, foresters, collaborative groups, charities, non-farming businesses. Your project must be on land in England and be a broadly connected area of between 500ha – 5,000ha.

Tenants and landowners will need to work together to develop bids. Public bodies can also apply, but only in collaboration with private land managers (including landowners or tenants).

Projects can:

  • Involve whole holdings or parts of them
  • Extend across national borders if there is at least 500ha in England, but only the land in England will be eligible for funding from this scheme
  • Include land that is in other government schemes, but Defra would not pay for activities already being funded

Read more about how Landscape Recovery will work here.