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The Landscape Recovery scheme is one of 3 new environmental land management schemes. It will complement the Sustainable Farming Incentive, which will support action at farm level to make farming more sustainable, and Local Nature Recovery, which will support action at local level to make space for nature alongside food production.
This scheme is for landowners and managers who want to take a more radical and large-scale approach to producing environmental and climate goods on their land.
This scheme represents a new approach to supporting long-term, significant habitat restoration and land use change of the sort that will be essential to achieve our environmental ambitions. We know there is demand for these kinds of projects, both among those who will deliver them and among the general public who want to see our most precious and beautiful landscapes restored and rejuvenated.
There is huge potential to make a significant positive impact through Landscape Recovery projects. The scheme will initially focus on biodiversity, water quality and net zero. We will fund projects that contribute to these outcomes over a long period and through substantial changes to land use and habitats.
We expect Landscape Recovery pilot projects alone will create at least 20,000ha of wilder landscapes, habitats, rewetted peat and afforestation at a landscape scale, delivering on the commitments made in the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan.
We are planning to open applications for Landscape Recovery pilot projects in at least 2 rounds over the next 2 years. We will launch the application process for the first round of up to 15 Landscape Recovery pilot projects shortly.
The first round of projects will be focused on 2 themes:
- recovering and restoring England’s threatened native species – we envisage the projects under this theme would recover priority habitats, habitat quality and species abundance
- restoring England’s streams and rivers: improving water quality, biodiversity and adapting to climate change – these projects could restore water bodies, rivers, and floodplains to a more natural state, reduce nutrient pollution, benefit aquatic species, and improve flood mitigation and resilience to climate change
We intend to launch a second round of pilot projects next year and will confirm the proposed theme(s) for that round in the later this year.
We expect that the first round of projects could deliver a range of environmental benefits including:
- at least 10,000 hectares of restored habitat
- at least 25 to 50 kilotonnes carbon savings per year, roughly equivalent to taking 12,000 to 25,000 cars off the road
- improved status of 45-57% of Species of Principal Importance in England, for example Eurasian curlew, marsh fritillary, sand lizard, water vole, wild asparagus and shrill carder bee
Landscape Recovery is open to any individuals or groups who want to come together to deliver large (500 – 5000 ha) scale projects.
Any individuals or groups who think they can deliver the ambitious impact we are seeking will be able to submit bids for development funding. This means that:
- all land types will be eligible, including land inside or outside protected areas, as well as common land
- the land could be under any management control or current use – including farming, foresting, managed as individual holdings, estates or by public bodies
- public bodies will need to apply in collaboration with other land managers – for example, with neighbouring landowners or tenants
- the land could be already part of existing agri-environment schemes, as well as those not involved in any scheme. (We would not be able to pay for activity already being undertaken through or incompatible with any existing scheme agreements. We will work with land managers to develop and test the process for exiting Higher Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship agreements early – without penalty – so they can enter Landscape Recovery to enable enhanced delivery of outcomes.)
- we will also welcome applications submitted by a facilitator working on behalf of a group of land managers
In the first round, we want to work with bids from up to 15 sites of 500-5,000 hectares with a roughly even split across the 2 themes.
We will assess applications for the first round of pilot projects against set criteria focused on the project’s feasibility, costs and potential impact. We will run separate competitions for projects under the species recovery and river restoration themes.
The criteria will cover:
- environmental benefits: species recovery / river restoration and other benefits
- carbon and climate resilience
- social impact: public access, community engagement and other benefits
- project leadership and delivery
We will publish full details of the criteria for both themes and how they will be assessed with our guidance shortly.
We want everyone who has a vision for making a difference to find a place in our new schemes. Applicants for Landscape Recovery that are not selected for funding will be signposted to other schemes which may be more appropriate for their proposal.
Project development phase
In each round, we will award the highest-scoring projects with development funding. This will support more detailed planning over around a 2-year period. At the end of this time, successful projects would proceed to implementation with agreed funding from Defra and the private sector.
The aims of the development phase are:
1: To support the chosen projects to prepare for delivery, including:
- land management feasibility and implementation planning
- engaging local stakeholders and communities
- obtaining relevant statutory consents/permits
- putting in place suitable governance arrangements
- creating a detailed monitoring and evaluation plan
- collecting baseline data
2: To agree funding arrangements, including:
- engaging and securing private investment
- deciding on the structure of private and public funds
- negotiating terms of a long-term project public funding agreement
- risk assessment, allocation, and mitigation planning
We will take a supportive approach to help projects to fulfil these aims and there will be plenty of time (up to 2 years) to complete the development phase.
We will provide grant funding for project development activities. Detail on what this grant can and cannot cover will be set out in our full scheme guidance.
During the project development phase, projects will be assessed at regular intervals so we can check if they are on track and aim to support them where needed. Further detail on the requirements of the assessments is set out in the application guidance.
If a project meets our requirements at the end of the development phase, they would be awarded a long-term implementation agreement, allowing them to start delivering on the ground.
If at the end of the development phase projects do not meet the requirements for further Landscape Recovery funding, we will work with them to see whether there are more appropriate alternative opportunities and support mechanisms. We ideally want to see all interested projects continuing to participate in an environmental land management scheme.
We want to enable farmers and land managers to combine revenue from both public and private sector funding to produce environmental and climate outcomes. To support this, we are designing Landscape Recovery to complement growing markets for ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration or improved water quality, and developing a robust framework of standards and rules for these markets. For example, water companies may wish to meet their statutory water quality obligations by co-funding ambitious, nature-based solutions which also deliver a range of other benefits such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity.
Given the ambitious, large-scale nature of Landscape Recovery projects, we anticipate that they will be well-placed to secure private investment to complement public funding. This means projects will not be fully funded by public funding alone beyond the development phase. Projects will not need a fully worked-up plan for this at the application stage but will need to develop credible proposals for attracting private finance during the development phase.
Project implementation phase
The project implementation phase is when work on the ground will commence. Our aim is that as many first round projects as possible would progress from project development to project implementation.
Our expectation is that project implementation agreements will be long term, for example 20 years plus, and that the projects will have long-term safeguards in place to protect them into the future, such as conservation covenants.
Project implementation agreements will be bespoke, setting out the land management activity and/or outcomes that the project will deliver, and how this will be funded.
Unlike for the Sustainable Farming Incentive or Local Nature Recovery schemes, we will not be setting out a list of activities that we will pay for and associated payment rates. Rather we will work with projects to negotiate bespoke agreements. Agreements will need to deliver good value for money by delivering significant outcomes and attracting private finance to support the project.
We will launch the application process shortly by releasing the invitation to apply and publishing full guidance on the scheme. This will cover detailed information on how bids will be assessed and how the scheme will work for the selected projects.
Projects will then have 16 weeks to prepare their applications before the application window closes.
Applications will then be assessed against our selection criteria and we will confirm the chosen first round pilot projects this summer.