Sheep graze on a field near woodland© Nick Spurling/FLPA/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Farmers wishing to apply for the higher tier of the next round of the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme have until 13 April to request an application pack from Natural England.

Farmers and land managers then have until 5 May 2017 to submit an application to the scheme.

Higher tier specifically focuses on environmentally important sites, including commons and woodlands, where the more complex management requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission, including tailoring options. 

See also: MPs blast civil servants over Countryside Stewardship delays

The application window under the mid-tier scheme is longer – farmers have until 31 July to request an application pack.

This will allow Natural England time to send out the maps and evidence requirements in time for farmers and land managers to develop their application for submission before the 30 September 2017 deadline.

The mid-tier scheme offers five-year agreements for environmental improvements in the wider countryside, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the environment for birds, pollinators and farm wildlife.

Natural England is urging farmers to apply.

Application packs can be requested by calling Natural England on 0300 060 3900. For more information visit the main Countryside Stewardship page on Gov.UK.