By supporting the farmers, land managers and people who live and work in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we can help protect these exceptional places and support local communities.
Through the programme farmers and land managers can be supported to carry out projects that help nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage, and/or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses. This is a programme of funding for one-off projects covering these areas of work, not an agri-environment scheme.
You can find details of the programme in the Guidance for Applicants, but the main points are also summarised here.
The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers (including from the private, public and charity sectors) in a National Park, AONB or the Norfolk Broads – or where activity on the ground can bring benefit to one or more of those areas.
Other organisations and individuals can apply as long as they do this in collaboration with a farmer or land manager, or in support of a farmer or group of farmers.
The programme supports activity on any land within the North Wessex Downs AONB and most of the funding will be provided to projects within the AONB boundary. It can also support activity on other land where projects can demonstrate benefit to the North Wessex Downs, or the AONB Partnership’s objectives or partnership initiatives.
You can see the boundary by visiting the MAGIC mapping website. Click on ‘designations’, ‘land-based designations’ and then ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty England.’
The programme will pay for projects that, in the opinion of the Local Assessment Panel, provide value for money and meet at least one of the outcomes listed below under four themes.
• There is a greater area of wildlife rich habitat
• There is greater connectivity between habitats
• Existing habitat is better managed for biodiversity
• There is an increase in biodiversity
• More carbon is stored and/or sequestered
• Flood risk is reduced
• Farmers, land managers and the public better understand what different habitats and land uses can store carbon and reduce carbon emissions
• The landscape is more resilient to climate change
• There are more opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
• There are more opportunities for more diverse audiences to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
• There is greater public engagement in land management, such as through volunteering
• Farmers and land managers feel increasingly comfortable with providing public goods
• The quality and character of the landscape is reinforced or enhanced
• Historic structures and features are conserved, enhanced or interpreted more effectively
• There is an increase in the resilience of nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses, which in turn contributes to a more thriving local economy
Your project must also help to deliver at least one of the objectives of the North Wessex Downs AONB Management Plan which can be found at on our website here.
For more information on priorities for the North Wessex Downs you can watch a video of a webinar we held on 15th July 2021. You can view it on Youtube here.
The kinds of projects the programme might support include:
• Restoring a poor-quality chalk stream for the water quality, biodiversity and natural flood management benefits this can bring
• Creating, restoring, extending, managing, buffering and/or connecting locally characteristic habitats, including species-rich chalk grassland, arable field margins, wet pasture, remnant heathland and common land, and wood pasture.
• Replacing stiles with gates on public footpaths to promote easier access
• Creating ponds to support a variety of wildlife
• Restoring and maintaining wildlife corridors through the landscapes
• Catchment-sensitive farming measures to reduce run-off and diffuse pollution and improve water quality
• Creating and promoting a series of farm walks across a cluster of farms, providing new or improved access opportunities, links to the rights of way network and interpretation of farming and of the natural and historic features on the land
• Conserving historic features on a farm, such as prehistoric barrows, hillforts or more recent historic structures
• Habitat creation, restoration or enhancement to improve species’ resilience in the face of climate change.
• A pop-up camping facility, alongside the provision of new walking trails and on-site activities, including e.g. stargazing and dawn chorus walks
• Action to improve soil health for water quality, flood prevention, biodiversity and carbon sequestration benefits
• Action to reduce carbon emissions on a farm
• Wildlife-friendly management of public open spaces, including recreation and sports grounds, parks, playgrounds, greens, allotments, community orchards and commons
• Whole-farm planning for conservation, energy efficiency and economic resilience, including in farmer clusters
• Gathering data and evidence to help inform conservation and farming practice
• Working with new audiences to enable them to experience, appreciate and care for the Protected Landscape
Where there is no commercial gain - up to 100% of the costs.
Where an applicant would benefit commercially from a project - 40% to 80% depending on how much commercial benefit is derived.
If an activity is equivalent to one under Countryside Stewardship (CS), the Programme payment rate will be the same as the CS rate. If not, funding offers will be based on the projected costs of an activity.
Farming in Protected Landscapes and other funding sources
The Programme will work alongside – not in competition with – Defra’s existing and new schemes, adding value where it is most needed. If a potential project can be rewarded through those schemes instead, you will be made aware of them. Note that those seeking support for machinery to increase productivity should utilise the Countryside Productivity Scheme rather than project grants through Farming in Protected Landscapes
You will need to apply direct to us – the team at North Wessex Downs AONB. We are not ready to take your full application just yet but would like you to register your interest as soon as you are ready to do so. To do this please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you for more information when we have the project officer in place to accept your application.
Before applying, we strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your application. Ideally, a Farming in Protected Landscapes project officer will visit your potential project location or meet you to discuss your ideas.
Applications for year 1 should be made between 1 July 2021 and 31 January 2022. Funding will be awarded to successful applicants throughout the application window so you should submit your application as soon as it is ready.
We will also consider applications for funding in year 2, especially if they aim to begin early in the financial year. Multi-year awards may be possible for longer projects.
All projects must end, and have been claimed and grants paid, by 31 March 2024.
Applications for over £5000 will be judged by a Local Assessment Panel.
The Local Assessment Panel includes representatives from the AONB team, Natural England, the farming and land management community, and other specialists. We expect that it will meet to make decisions every 6 to 8 weeks.
Applications for less than £5000 will be decided upon by a senior member of the AONB team who has had no previous role in advising on the application.
Applications will be scored on:
- Fit with Programme Outcomes – 40% of scoring weighting
- Value for money – 20%
- Sustainability / legacy – 20%
- Deliverability – 20%
Capital infrastructure assets (including, but not limited to, fences, gates, building restoration), should be maintained for 5 years from the date of completion.
Machinery assets (to deliver conservation work, for example a brush harvester for grassland restoration) should be maintained for 5 years from the date of purchase.
The requirement to maintain natural, cultural and access activities (for example, management of grassland) delivered as part of programme will cease no later than 1 April 2024.
If you have a question about the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme, please email email@example.com or call 01488 685440.