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Moorland Grazings on Uplands and Peatlands

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

The specific objectives of this Option are to:

  • protect and enhance wildlife and biodiversity
  • protect and manage fragile upland soils
  • support the achievement of good water status by reducing upland soil erosion
  • mitigate greenhouse gas emission by maintaining and enhancing upland vegetation that forms peat soils and acts as a natural carbon store.

What this will achieve

This will maintain and enhance a range of upland and peatland habitats by promoting good soil management.

What you can do

  • a Moorland Management Plan must address impacts that can lead to erosion on hill grazings where soft peaty soils or thin upland soils predominate. It will take account of trampling by livestock, tracking by All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), muirburn and peat-cutting.
  • trampling by livestock can break up the ground layer of vegetation, exposing bare soil. Moderate levels of trampling can benefit biodiversity on heather moorland and grasslands but can lead to soil erosion on more sensitive blanket bog and montane habitats. Land managers should aim to balance the needs of the habitats on their land by avoiding excessive trampling on sensitive areas whilst avoiding the build up of dead plant litter elsewhere. This can be achieved by looking out for signs of moderate trampling in the most sensitive areas, e.g. around springs, bog pools or peat hags, and making changes in management to reduce these impacts as necessary. This might include additional shepherding, modifying stock management or feeding practices or moving stock via alternative routes that avoid such areas.
  • away from hill tracks and re-seeds, use only low ground pressure vehicles, such as quad bikes or Argocats. Use them sparingly and for essential work only. Pick routes that use dry, hard ground and avoid wet areas, pool systems steep slopes and exposed tops. In particular, avoid montane vegetation rich in mosses and lichens - even driving over it once can seriously damage this sensitive habitat.
  • muirburn can benefit nature conservation when carried out correctly but inappropriate muirburn can lead to soil erosion when the burn is too hot or in the wrong location. The following key points should help avoid soil erosion:
  • agree a Muirburn Plan with SNH that details areas proposed for muirburn, an appropriate burning rotation, fire-free areas and additional resources available to control fires
  • follow the latest edition of The Muirburn Code
  • no muirburn after 15 April
  • carry out muirburn in strips no more than 20 m wide
  • peat has traditionally been cut by hand for domestic fuel and this practice can be compatible with maintaining the conservation interests of peatlands. Existing peat banks may continue to be cut by hand taking care that the turfs are carefully replaced on the cut surface with the vegetation side uppermost. This will ensure that the vegetation cover survives and the peat forming process continues.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option

Eligibility criteria

You can only enter land within a SSSI, SAC or SPA designated for its upland or peatland interests - vegetation, birds or plants. You must use the land for agricultural livestock production to be eligible for this Option.

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

You may combine this Option with the Muirburn and Heather Swiping Option.

You may not combine this Option with the Management of Moorland Grazings Option.

Please see Definitions of Land Types page form more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any costs 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 £2 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:

  • Prepared Moorland Management Plan addressing impacts that lead to erosion is being carried out
  • There is no evidence of vehicle tracks other than from low pressure tyres away from hill tracks and re-seeds
  • Muirburn Plan agreed with SNH if applicable, Muirburn Code has been followed
  • If peat is cut by hand the turfs have been replaced vegetation side up
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance