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Lowland Heath

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

The aim of this Option is to maintain the open nature of native lowland heath.

What this will achieve

By protecting native lowland heath, you will encourage the growth of characteristic native plants such as Juniper, Pillwort and Marsh Clubmoss and provide breeding and feeding grounds for birds such as Nightjar and Skylark. All of these are Biodiversity Action Plan ( BAP) species.

What you can do

Requirements

  • A farm livestock management and grazing regime must be set out in a grazing plan to be agreed with the Scottish Ministers. You should consult a recognised conservation organisation when you are drawing up this grazing plan
  • Exclude farm livestock from the area from 1 November to the end of February
  • Depending on the growing season on your site, you may be able to extend the grazing into March/April in the spring and September/October in the autumn
  • At other times grazing levels must not exceed 0.3 LU/hectare
  • It is beneficial to have a low level of grazing from 1 May to 1 September inclusive on these sites to remove rank growth and lightly crop any dwarf shrubs to create a good structure to maintain the diversity across the habitat

  • You must not allow bracken or scrub to encroach onto more than 20% of the total site area. You may need to control bracken and scrub to prevent this

  • Do not apply fertiliser, slurry or farmyard manure to the site.

Who can apply (including geographical element)

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

You can enter any area of lowland heath under this Option. This heath is found at lower altitudes and is relatively rare in Scotland. Heather and other dwarf shrubs usually form between 25% and 90% of the vegetation. Often lower plants such as lichens and mosses are an important part of the mixture, and some gorse, bracken or scattered tree cover has always been part of the heathland scene. Lowland heathland occurs mainly on acid soils with a thin organic layer of humus. Around Scotland's coasts and on the islands are heaths which have a greater percentage of flowering plants and grasses included in the mixture. Most of the heaths have been influenced and are maintained by man and grazing animals, but the coastal heaths are influenced more by their exposure to wind and salt-spray. Lowland heath is a priority European habitat, as it is a restricted resource and it is still declining throughout Europe.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £123 per hectare per year. We will pay at the end of each year.

Inspections/verification

The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Compliance with agreed grazing plan
  • Bracken and scrub encroachment does not exceed 20% of site area
  • Visual check to ensure no fertiliser/ FYM/Slurry has been applied to the site
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance