WD8: Creation of successional areas and scrub

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the creation of successional areas and scrub option.

How much will be paid

£87 per hectare (ha)

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole or part-parcel


  • on land next to existing scrub or woodland areas
  • in areas already inhabited by target species

Where this option cannot be used

  • on historic or archaeological features
  • on existing wildlife sites
  • where scrub would be harmful to the landscape

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included if they are part of the land, even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

  • water-bodies that are less than 4m wide
  • unsurfaced roads such as tracks, paths or bridleways

How this option will benefit the environment

It regenerates a succession of scrub. This enhances habitats for specific target species and improves the quality of the woodland edge.

Establishing scrub growth also restricts soil erosion and holds back water to reduce downstream flood risks.

If successful there will be:

  • more scrub growing close to grassland, woodland and other habitats
  • birds and invertebrates using the scrub
  • less soil erosion in scrub areas
  • reduced flooding in scrub areas


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • keep livestock out of the option area from 1 October to 30 April
  • only cut to maintain the scrub and grass mosaic
  • only cut to control the spread of injurious weeds and invasive non-native species protect growing trees from livestock and wild animals
  • make sure tree guards don’t damage growing trees
  • keep all mature and veteran trees and standing deadwood
  • keep all fallen deadwood in place uncut although applicants can stack them in piles
  • graze to maintain the scrub and grass mosaic
  • agree with Natural England in writing all drainage works, including modifying existing drainage, before any works take place

The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holders will not be allowed to:

  • use pesticides and herbicides except to spot-treat or weed-wipe to control nettles, bracken, injurious weeds or invasive non-native species
  • cut more than one-third of shrub growth in any one calendar year
  • cut during the bird breeding season (1 March to 31 August)
  • apply fertilisers or manures
  • plough, cultivate or re-seed
  • harrow or roll
  • use supplementary feed

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • stock records to show grazing activity on parcels
  • soil analyses

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic records:

  • photographs of the management undertaken

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • photographs of all trees and standing and fallen deadwood
  • a map of the drainage system
  • adviser report confirming eligibility requirements have been met
  • photograph of existing bracken
  • photograph of scrub location
  • evidence that scrub creation location proposal meets eligibility requirement

The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.

The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully but does not form

Pick the right location

This option works best where:

  • there is some open ground amongst the scrub for grasses and non-woody plants to grow
  • scrub is next to other habitats such as grassland or heath
  • scrub is established by woodland edges
  • scrub can hold soils together and slow down surface runoff

Remove livestock

Remove grazing livestock to allow scrub plants to establish. Once established, stop scrub from becoming too dense by cutting on rotation, or by grazing.

Establish a variety of scrub

Establish a variety of scrub to provide habitats and food for target species. For example:

  • gorse scrub can support birds like the Dartford warbler, stonechat, linnet and yellowhammer
  • willow scrub in wetlands can support warblers, reed bunting and willow tits
  • buds and berries and caterpillars on scrub are essential food sources for birds

Further information

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Updated information for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.