Special Environmental Sites and Schemes

14. Habitat Schemes

This was a pilot scheme, launched in May 1994, aimed at creating or enhancing certain valuable habitats by taking land out of agricultural production, or introducing extensive grazing, and managing it for the benefit of wildlife. The scheme targeted three types of habitat:

  • water fringes in six designated areas;
  • farmland previously in the Five Year Set-Aside Scheme;
    (this option closed to new applicants on 15 July 1997)
  • coastal saltmarsh

Water Fringes

There were six pilot sites in the UK where 10 and 20 year agreements are offered by the DEFRA to manage waterside agricultural land extensively or to take it out of production to benefit wildlife in the water and on the water bankside. The six water fringe sites include:

  • The Yorkshire Derwent and Rye system
  • The Ribble Tributaries
  • Upper Avon, Wylye and Nadder
  • The River Beult
  • Slapton Ley
  • The Shropshire Meres

Annual payments in 1999/2000 ranged from £125 per hectare to £485 per hectare.


The Habitat Scheme offers incentives to farmers to manage their land so as to create or improve wildlife habitats. Under this option, annual payments are offered for the conversion of land into saltmarsh where this is consistent with the provision of effective and sustainable coastal defence. The scheme involves a 20 year agreement with the DEFRA.  Annual payments in 1999/2000 ranged from £250 per hectare to £525 per hectare.

Moorland Scheme

This scheme has now been incorporated into the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

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