Grant scheme for group environmental projects now open

Groups of farmers and organisations can bid for grants to support large-scale environmental projects in their area from 1 September.

The Countryside Stewardship facilitation fund aims to bring farmers, foresters and other land managers together to improve the local natural environment at landscape scale.

The fund encourages landowners to think beyond their own fields and woodlands to bring environmental benefits over a wider landscape by working on projects together.

See also: Guide to grants to fund livestock and arable precision kit

Projects can cover land under existing agri-environment and forestry/woodland agreements, common land and land not covered by a scheme.

The grants will be competitive, with priority being given to applications that demonstrate a partnership and collective approach across farms.

Wide support

Since the scheme began, it has supported 61 groups and 1,350 land managers to improve more than 273,000ha of land. Improvements include enhancing wildlife habitats, planting trees and restoring rivers to their natural meanders.

To apply, groups must submit new plans for working together and sharing knowledge to improve their land and benefit their communities.

One group benefitting from funding is the Bourn Brook Facilitation Fund in Cambridgeshire, which joined the scheme in 2015.

Since then, 20 farms covering more than 6,500ha have worked together to connect local ancient woodland, improve river quality and encourage other farmers to get involved in the environmental work.

The closing date for applications is 14 November 2017.

Countryside Stewardship is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

See the government’s guide to the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund

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