DEFRA HAS published a report detailing the environmental achievements of both the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme.

The report, which is the first in the seventeen year history of the two schemes, details the positive impact on the environment of both initiatives during 2002–03. 

In 2002 there were 40,000 ha (98,838 acres) under the CS scheme and a further 60,000 ha (148,257 acres) in the ESA scheme; this represents about 11.11% of the total farmed area in England.

Expenditure on both schemes in 2002–03 was just over £105 million – of this £81 million was for annual land management and £24 million for capital works.

Among the successes listed in the report is the successful re-establishment of the cirl bunting in Devon and Cornwall.

Between 1992 and 1998 numbers increased by 83% on CS land compared with 2% elsewhere.

In 1998 over 450 pairs were recorded but by 2002 there were 576 recorded pairs.

The corncrake, one of Europe‘s rarest birds, has also benefited from improved breeding areas as a result of ESA status on moorland.

The report says the future will see the introduction of the ‘broad and shallow‘ or Entry Level Scheme which will be open to land managers in 2005.

A new ‘narrow and deep‘ or Higher Level Scheme is also being designed to complement the ELS under the new Environmental Stewardship Scheme.