ADAS advice on managing trees in Environmental Stewardship schemes

In the sixth of FWi / ADAS’s frequently asked questions regarding Environmental Stewardship schemes ADAS’s David Middleditch, examines the different options for trees.

If you have any questions on this or any other Environmental Stewardship matter ADAS experts are on hand to answer them in our dedicated forum on stewardship.

Q. I have a group of five trees on the edge of one of my fields. Can I enter them into ELS?



There are several ELS options for which small groups of trees may be eligible. The two main deciding factors are the number of trees in the group and their location.


In order to qualify for option EC1/EC2 ‘Protection of in-field trees’, the tree(s) must be separate from the boundary – as long as you can walk around the trunk, then that qualifies as ‘in-field’.


Also, for this option, the maximum number of trees in one in-field group is three – if their canopies overlap. If the canopies do not overlap then each tree will be considered separately.


If your trees have five overlapping canopies the group will be considered as woodland. In this case, possible options within ELS are woodland edge and buffer strip options.


Woodland edge options are EC3 and EC4 (page 44 in the handbook). EC3 involves the maintenance of woodland edge fencing in order to protect woodland flora and encourage natural regeneration of trees and shrubs.

EC4, titled ‘Management of woodland edges’, aims to produce a shrubby, 2m wide woodland edge by encouraging the wood to spread outwards. This option prevents cultivation or supplementary feeding of stock within 2metre of the existing woodland edge.


You could also add a buffer strip (options EE1 – EE6, page 50 – 54 of the handbook) to the above option, or opt for this instead if you prefer – though the value to wildlife from combining a series of options increases exponentially. Buffer strips are useful for taking land out of production where yields are compromised by adjacent woodland. From an environmental point of view, these strips protect adjacent features and they also develop habitat value in their own right. Buffer strips can be two, four, or six metre wide – choose whichever width is most suited to you and your machinery.

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Look back at other frequently asked questions here.

  • David Middleditch is Senior Environment Consultant with ADAS. With a background in agriculture and conservation advice, David manages the DEFRA conservation advice programme for ADAS