Farming in Protected Landscapes programme

The programme provides funding to farmers and land managers (and others working with them), for projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to engage with the landscape and cultural heritage, or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.

Maiden Castle (c) Yvonne Blackborough

About the Programme

Protected Landscapes – our National Parks and National Landscapes – are special and unique places. They are living, working landscapes that also support a huge range of habitats and species, and they are enjoyed by millions of people every year. By supporting the farmers, land managers and people who live and work in these areas, we can help protect these exceptional places and support local communities.

To help do this, Defra has introduced the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, which runs from July 2021 to March 2025.

Through the programme, farmers and land managers can be supported to carry out projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage, or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses. This is a programme of funding for one-off projects covering these areas of work, not an agri-environment scheme.

Marshwood Vale (c) Nathalie Roberts

The programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan. It has been developed by Defra with the support of a group of National Landscape and National Park staff from across the country.

In the Dorset National Landscape, the Dorset National Landscape team will be awarding the remaining £500,000 between now and the end of the programme in March 2025.

Who can apply

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers (including from the private, public and charity sector) in a National Park, National Landscape or the Norfolk Broads – or where activity on the ground can bring benefit to one or more of those areas.

You must manage all the land included in the application, and have control of all the activities you’d like to undertake, or you must have written consent from all parties who have this management and control.

Other organisations and individuals can apply, as long as they do this in collaboration with a farmer or land manager, or in support of a farmer or group of farmers.

Common land is eligible for support through the Programme. You can apply as a landowner with sole rights, or as a group of commoners acting together.

The programme supports activity on any land within the Dorset National Landscape. It can also support activity on other land where projects can demonstrate benefit to the Dorset National Landscape, or the Dorset National Landscape’s objectives or partnership initiatives. Most of the funding will probably be provided to projects within the National Landscape boundary.

You can see the boundary by visiting the MAGIC mapping website. Click on ‘designations’, ‘land-based designations’ and then ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty England.’

What the Programme will pay for

The Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme pays for projects that, in the opinion of the Local Assessment Panel (see ‘Application assessment’ below) provide value for money and meet at least one of the outcomes listed below, under four themes:

Climate

  • more carbon is stored, sequestered or both
  • flood risk has been reduced
  • better understanding among farmers, land managers and the public as to what different habitats and land uses can deliver for carbon storage and reduced carbon emissions
  • the landscape is more resilient to climate change

Nature

  • there is a greater area of wildlife-rich habitat
  • there is greater connectivity between habitats
  • existing habitat is better managed for biodiversity
  • there is an increase in biodiversity

People outcomes

  • more opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • more opportunities for more diverse audiences to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • greater public engagement in land management, for example through volunteering

Place outcomes

  • the quality and character of the landscape is reinforced or enhanced
  • historic structures and features are conserved, enhanced or interpreted more effectively
  • there is an increase in the resilience of nature-friendly sustainable farm businesses, which contributes to a more thriving local economy

Your project must also help to deliver at least one of the objectives of the Dorset AONB Management Plan. (To help you, these Dorset National Landscape Management Plan objectives are also listed in Annex A of the downloadable ‘guidance for applicants’ document below).

For example, the programme might support:

  • Re-wiggling a straightened watercourse, for the biodiversity and natural flood management benefits this can bring
  • Replacing stiles with gates on public footpaths to promote easier access
  • Restoring drystone walls across a landholding
  • Conserving historic features on a farm, such as lime kilns
  • A pop-up camping facility, alongside the provision of new walking trails and on site activities, including e.g. stargazing and dawn chorus walks
  • Whole farm planning for conservation, energy efficiency and economic resilience, including in farmer clusters

If an applicant will not make a commercial gain through a project, they could receive up to 100% of the costs.

Where an applicant would benefit commercially from a project, they could receive between 40% and 80% of the costs through the Programme, depending on how much commercial benefit the project will give them.

The Programme works alongside – not in competition with – Defra’s existing and new schemes, adding value where it is most needed. If a potential project can be rewarded through those schemes instead, you will be made aware of them.

If an activity is equivalent to one under Countryside Stewardship (CS), the Programme payment rate will be the same as the CS rate. If not, we will base Programme funding offers on the projected costs of an activity (with final payments made against evidenced costs).

Capital infrastructure assets (including, but not limited to, fences, gates, building restoration), should be maintained for 5 years from the date of completion.

Machinery assets (for example a brush harvester for grassland restoration) should be maintained for 5 years from the date of purchase.

The requirement to maintain natural, cultural and access activities (for example, management of grassland, restoration of a limekiln) delivered as part of programme will cease no later than 1 April 2025.

More detail on this can be found in the guidance.

To apply, please fill in an application form. There is a rolling application window for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme. Funding will be awarded to successful applicants throughout the application window, rather than after the window closes, so you should submit your application as soon as it is ready. Multi-year awards are possible for longer projects. All projects must end by March 2025.

As of November 2023, all 2023/2024 funds have been allocated. There is still £200,000 available for projects to be delivered in 2024/2025.

Regular Local Assessment Panel meetings are held throughout the year:

  • To be considered at our April 2024 Panel, apply before 20th of March 2024
  • To be considered at our June 2024 Panel, apply before 17th of May 2024

Before applying, we would encourage you to contact the Dorset National Landscape Team to discuss your application. Ideally, the Farming in Protected Landscapes project officers might visit your potential project location or meet you to discuss your ideas.

FIPL Officers from Cranborne Chase and Dorset National Landscapes hosted a webinar for advisers in October 2023 which gives an overview of remaining funds and programme priorities at that time. The recording can be found HERE and the answers to questions downloaded HERE.

Applications for over £10,000 are judged by a Local Assessment Panel. This kind of system has been used locally before for the Dorset National Landscape  ‘Sustainable Development Fund’.

The Local Assessment Panel is made up of 8 to 12 people. It includes representatives from the Dorset National Landscape, Natural England, representatives from the farming and land management community, as well as wildlife, access and other specialists.

The panel meets to make decisions every 8 weeks.

Applications for less than £10,000 will be decided upon by a senior member of the National Landscape team (who has no prior knowledge of the project).

Outcomes from the programme include:

  • 7.5km of hedgerows
  • 2061 trees planted
  • 6 farm clusters supported
  • 61 educational visits delivered
  • 12,371ha of land supported

To date Dorset National Landscape have funded 127 projects via the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme. A PDF giving further details of these can be found here.

Some example case studies of recent Farming in Protected Landscapes projects can be found at the bottom of this page.

More information

If you have a question about the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme in the Dorset National Landscape, please get in touch with Dorset National Landscape Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer, Rachel Janes

Gorwell Farm (c) Rachel Janes

First year review

In its first year over 1000 approved projects have been undertaken across the country.

In the leaflet you can find out what farmers say about the benefits of the scheme, the application process and read about some of the successful projects.

Brushharvester (c) Rachel Janes

Second Year Review

In its second year more than 2400 approved projects have been undertaken across the country so far.

In the leaflet you can find out what farmers say about the benefits of the scheme, the application process and read about some of the successful projects.