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£2.5 million on offer in latest round of Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund

Posted: 23/10/23

Press release by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Rural Payments Agency, Natural England, and The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP

Published: 23 October 2023

The eighth round of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund has opened for applications today, the government has announced (23 October 2023).

The £2.5 million fund encourages collaboration between groups of farmers, foresters and other land managers to improve local environmental outcomes such as enhancing wildflower and grassland or protecting meadows and woodlands.

The announcement means that farming groups and landowners will be able to bid for a share of £2.5 million of funding which will be made available over the next three years. Each group can apply for up to £50,000 to deliver improvements, with the fund designed so that projects can be tailored to the character of the local area, increasing the environmental benefits they provide.

Since it was established in 2015, the fund has seen around 6,000 farmers and land managers come together in 224 groups across the country to develop their knowledge and skills to improve nature restoration in their local areas.

It plays a key role in the wider aims of the Countryside Stewardship scheme to protect and enhance the natural environment, including through actions to increase biodiversity, improve water and air quality, expand woodland areas and improve natural flood management.

Both new and existing groups will be able to apply for a share of the funds by completing an online application form on the website. Applications will be open for 12 weeks until 15 January 2024.

The Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund is part of the government’s Countryside Stewardship scheme, one of the government’s environmental land management schemes which seek to boost food production while protecting the environment. In the last three years, there has been a 94% increase in the number of Countryside Stewardship agreements, and more than 6,500 applications were submitted in the most recent round of the Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier scheme.

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