Over the next five years, the new Countryside Stewardship scheme will offer grants to help improve our environment and countryside – with £85 million set aside to support projects in 2016, including those that improve pollen and nectar sources.
Bees and pollinators are one of four main priorities for the scheme, which is being run on a competitive basis for the first time this year.
Applications will be ranked and money only awarded to those who will make the biggest improvements in their local area. Extra points will be given to agreements working to support bees and pollinators and other farm wildlife.
Work could include year-round food, shelter and nesting places that wild pollinators, birds and other farm wildlife need to survive and thrive; sowing nectar flower and winter bird food mixes; or increasing flower resources on grassland and on field margins and managing hedgerows.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
This is the first ever countryside stewardship scheme that specifically combines help for bees and pollinators as well as wildlife, woodland and rivers.
This will mean more margins and meadows with colourful wildflowers in our countryside. Productive farming goes hand in hand with improving the environment.
Evidence suggests there can be meaningful benefits for farm wildlife if the right combination of environmentally-friendly farming practices are adopted on just 3 per cent or more of land.
Countryside Stewardship grants will help pay for thousands of individual agreements across the country with a special focus on four priorities:
- Wildlife and nature: restoring habitats, providing food and nesting places for birds, insects and other animals, creating areas for rare flowering plants and managing hedges
- Pollinators: providing pollen and nectar sources and nesting places and ensuring the right resources for wild pollinators where they are most needed
- Woodland: funding the creation of new woodland and supporting the management of existing woodlands
- Water/flooding: making water cleaner and reducing risk of flooding by encouraging changes to farming practice (such as crop management), improving farm infrastructure and establishing woodland
Building on the existing agri-environment or woodland grant schemes, it will offer a new competitive approach, ensuring that funding goes to those schemes that will make the biggest possible difference to the local environment.
Local priorities have been established across the country, meaning that this funding will be directly targeted to actions that will bring the biggest environmental benefit for those areas.