WD7: Management of successional areas and scrub

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

How much will be paid

£74 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel


  • where scrub cover makes up at least 10% of the area

Where this option cannot be used

This option cannot be used:

  • where there are historic or archaeological features
  • on existing open habitats (where scrub can be included in a relevant option)
  • where scrub would be out of character for the area

How this option will benefit the environment

It provides enhanced habitat for a wide range of wildlife and improves the quality of the woodland edge. It also helps prevent 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


  • keep livestock out of the option area from 1 October to 30 April
  • only cut to maintain the scrub and grass mosaic and to control the spread of injurious weeds and invasive non-native species
  • protect growing trees from livestock and wild animals
  • make sure tree guards do not damage growing trees
  • keep all mature and veteran trees and all standing deadwood, if safe to do so
  • keep all fallen deadwood uncut and in place, stacked in piles
  • agree all drainage works (including modifying existing drainage) with Natural England in writing before any works take place

Do not:

  • 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
  • supplementary feed
  • use pesticides, except for herbicides to weed wipe or spot treat injurious weeds, invasive non-native species, nettles or bracken

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
  • any consents or permissions connected with this work
  • photographs of all trees and standing and fallen deadwood
  • a map of the drainage system
  • photograph of existing bracken
  • photograph of scrub location
  • evidence that scrub creation location proposal meets eligibility requirements

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 the management undertaken

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • evidence of extent of scrub cover - this can be marked on any map including the Farm Environment Record (FER)

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

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 part of the requirements for this option.

Pick the right location

This option works best where:

  • there is some open ground among 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 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

Dead and fallen trees

Leave any trees that die or fall in position, except where it is necessary to remove them for health and safety reasons.

Further information

See the Mid Tier manual or 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. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.