GS7: Restoration towards species-rich grassland
Find out about eligibility and requirements for the restoration towards species-rich grassland option.
How much will be paid
£145 per hectare (ha).
How long the option lasts
This option lasts for 10 years, instead of the standard 5 years for the grant scheme.
Where to use this option
Available for Higher Tier
Whole or part-parcel
Only on parcels of grassland that have high or medium potential for being restored to grassland priority habitat.
Features that can be included in this option
The following features can be included in this option if they are part of the land, even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):
- ditches, dykes, drains, rivers or streams that are less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel
- temporary water
- permanent water less than or equal to 0.1ha, at the discretion of Natural England)
- natural unsurfaced roads, tracks, paths and bridleways (as long as the applicant is still able to carry out the requirements of the option)
- scree, rock outcrops and boulders up to 0.1ha
- grazed woodland and scrub that has grass underneath it and that livestock can access, at the discretion of Natural England
- small areas of other habitat types, such as reedbeds, at the discretion of Natural England
How this option will benefit the environment
It will restore grasslands that have the potential to become priority grasslands. It will increase the number and frequency of important plant species. Many other priority species, such as bumblebees, butterflies, birds or bats, will also benefit. Buried archaeological features will not be disturbed.
Agreement holders are likely to need to:
- increase the presence and abundance of high value plant species, for example by deliberately introducing new species
- maintain a range of plant heights suitable for invertebrates, birds or other priority species
- manage the grassland by grazing, hay cutting, or a mixture of both
- maintain a continuous cover, particularly over historic features
- use very little or no manure, fertiliser, pesticide or supplementary feed
- maintain scrub, rushes and other potentially dominating plants at the levels set out in the agreement
- control undesirable plants (these can be specified in the agreement)
A detailed timetable will need to be agreed setting out how the grassland will be restored and the timetable to achieve it. This should include details of how seeds or plants will be introduced, identifying the source of the material and the varieties and quantities to be used. It should also set out how the grassland will be managed after the plants or seeds are introduced.
The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holder will not be allowed to:
- plough, cultivate or re-seed, unless agreed with Natural England
- harrow, roll or allow scrub or bracken to encroach on historic or archaeological features
- carry out activities that may disturb breeding birds or damage nests
Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:
- receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with the work
- field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
- a standard soil analysis, to be completed in the final agreement year and results submitted with final claim
- soil analysis results
- inputs used
- any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record
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 are likely to have to send the following with their application:
- a standard soil analysis, including analysis of organic matter by loss on ignition, with their application
- a map of the existing drainage system
- photographs showing the extent of scrub or bracken on any historic or archaeological features must be taken
- photographs showing any areas where sward enhancement will be carried out
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:
- BE3 - Management of hedgerows
- GS15 - Haymaking supplement
- GS16 - Rush infestation control supplement
- OR1 – Organic conversion – improved permanent grassland
- OR2 - Organic conversion - unimproved permanent grassland
- OT1 – Organic land management – improved permanent grassland
- OT2 - Organic land management - unimproved permanent grassland
- SP1 - Difficult sites supplement
- SP2 - Raised water level supplement
- SP3 - Bracken control supplement
- SP4 - Control of invasive plant species supplement
- SP5 - Shepherding supplement
- SP6 - Cattle grazing supplement
- SP7 - Introduction of cattle grazing on the Isles of Scilly
- SP8 - Native breeds at risk supplement
- SP9 - Threatened species supplement
- WT3 - Management of ditches of high environmental value
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.
How to choose a site
This option works best on infertile soils where the soil phosphorus index (as shown by soil analysis) is low and where the sward is not dominated by aggressive plant species or injurious weeds. It is best used where it will extend an existing area of priority habitat.
How to manage the site
The management for this option will be tailored to the site, but in most cases the following will be needed:
- appropriate livestock (which will often be cattle), over which the agreement holder has full control
- machinery to allow management requirements such as hay cutting to be carried out
- consideration of how best to manage associated features such as ditches and scrub
- capital works to support this option (e.g. to increase the number of plant species, use option FM2 - Major preparatory works for priority habitats (creation and restoration) and priority species
- change of hay cutting and grazing patterns, at least in the short term
Upland calcareous and other very extensively managed grassland, especially in large parcels, may not be accepted for this option. Such grassland may be eligible for other options, such as GS13 - Management of grassland for target features.
Once the grassland is restored to priority habitat, it may be eligible for option GS6 - Management of species-rich grassland.
See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.
Published: 2 April 2015
Updated: 10 March 2017
- Updated for 2017 applications.
- Information updated for applications in 2016.
- Update to 'keeping records' section.
- First published.