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Farmers are being invited to apply for funding for river projects and wildlife from the government’s Landscape Recovery scheme.

• Scheme targets larger-scale projects

• Goal is to improve rivers and streams

• Wildlife habitat and species restored

Farmers are being invited to apply for funding for river projects and wildlife from the government’s Landscape Recovery scheme.

The competitive scheme is open to individuals or groups for initiatives covering 500-5000ha. Funding is provided for projects that restore streams and rivers, improve water quality and biodiversity, and recover or improve wildlife species and habitats.

Launched last month, the first round of the scheme is open until 24 May. Applications will be scored according to how well they meet the selection criteria. Successful applicants will then receive funding for up to two years of an expected 20-year agreement.

Projects could include restoring the natural courses and condition of watercourses – or creating. Defra says the scheme will support  the government’s ambition to deliver at least 10 large scale areas devoted to landscape and ecosystem recovery by 2024.

Natural environment

Defra secretary George Eustice said: “The focus of our Landscape Recovery scheme will be to restore threatened species and priority habitats – helping to protect our natural environment for generations to come and boost biodiversity.

“While the types of projects we envisage won’t be right for every farm business or farm holding, they will be right for some which is why this scheme will support a choice that some landowners may want to take, and put in place the right incentives.”

Up to 15 projects will be taken forward within the total project development budget available of £7.5m. The scheme is the highest tier of the government’s wider Environmental Land Management scheme.

Environment Agency chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd said successful projects would help to improve water quality and reduce risks from flooding – helping the UK adapt to the challenge of climate change.

Floodplains restored

“The Landscape Recovery scheme will fund projects that will see waterbodies, rivers and floodplains restored to a more natural state helping to deliver the government’s ambition to reverse the decline in nature by 2030.”

Harry Greenfield, senior land use advisor at the Country Land and Business Association, said the scheme would not be suitable for all land managers, given the scale of projects involved and the 20-year minimum length of agreement.

“Once the scheme has been piloted in coming years, there may be scope for those who have been in higher-tier Countryside Stewardship or the new Local Nature Recovery scheme, to go further and enter into Landscape Recovery.”

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