WB1: Small wildlife box

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the small wildlife box item.

How much will be paid

£28.50 per box.

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier


  • with options HS1 and HS8 in Mid Tier (can be used in other circumstances in Higher Tier)
  • for tree sparrow, dormouse, targeted bat species or invertebrate pollinators (these are the ‘target species’), unless an RSPB, Buglife or Natural England specialist supports its use for another species
  • when the other year-round target species’ requirements (summer and winter foraging habitat) are being met on the holding or nearby

How this item will benefit the environment

It provides artificial nesting, roosting and hibernation sites for specific mammals, birds and invertebrates.


Agreement holders will need to agree with Natural England a specification for the box. Each box should be sited in the agreed location and cleaned out in the autumn (October and November), unless it is a bee box, or hibernating or roosting bats are using it. Each box must be maintained in good condition, with any damage or losses made good during the agreement term.

Keeping records

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

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • photographs of the proposed site for the wildlife box
  • the date that the nest boxes are cleaned out (unless used by bats or invertebrates)
  • please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Higher Tier manual for more detail

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the completed work

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following section gives advice on carrying out this item successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this item.


Keep the box in its original location, but if it is not being used after year 3, ask Natural England for relocation advice.


Boxes should be:

  • in ancient woodlands or large hedgerows - avoid isolated trees
  • in batches of at least 10 (ideally over 50), spaced 10m to 20m at around 30 boxes per hectare
  • 1.5m to 2m above the ground, and over 3m if public have access
  • away from footpaths
  • made of untreated timber
  • based on the PTES box construction guidance

Tree sparrows

Boxes should be:

  • on farm buildings or hedgerow trees, ideally near permanent water such as ponds
  • away from places cats and squirrels can easily access, with a secure lid
  • out of the midday sun
  • weatherproof with small drainage holes in the floor
  • made from wood at least 15mm thick with a 28mm entrance hole - follow the RSPB and British Trust for Ornithology guidance


Boxes should be:

  • large enough for a maternity colony to cluster to conserve heat
  • dry, rainproof and draught-free, with no gaps where the sides and top join
  • entered by a slit at the base (front or back) no more than 15mm to 20mm wide - follow the Bat Conservation Trust guidance
  • preservative-free if made of wood
  • out of the midday sun
  • close to a hedgerow or tree line
  • placed with other boxes facing in different directions to offer a range of temperature conditions

Solitary bees

Boxes should be:

  • in a dry, sunny and sheltered position on farm buildings, a post, or freestanding with a raised base to prevent rising damp
  • near pollen and nectar forage
  • 50cm by 50cm and 20cm deep, open fronted but with a back
  • made of untreated timber
  • weatherproof with small drainage holes in the floor
  • contain at least four compartments, packed tightly with drilled hardwood blocks, bamboo stem sections and reed stems or paper drinking straws

Further information

Bats and their roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - it is an offence to disturb, handle or kill bats. A licence from Natural England is needed to inspect bat boxes that have been or are being used by bats.

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

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 18 May 2017 + show all updates
  1. Also available in Higher Tier
  2. Updated for 2017 applications.
  3. Information updated for applications in 2016.2016
  4. First published.