Tir Gofal Agri-Environment Scheme for Wales

Tir Gofal Agri-Environment Scheme for Wales


Description

Tir Gofal is a whole farm agri-environment scheme which has been available throughout Wales since April 1999. The Scheme aims to encourage agricultural practices which will protect and enhance the landscapes of Wales, their cultural features and associated wildlife.

Why we need an agri-environment scheme for Wales?

Tir Gofal, a whole farm agri-environment scheme for Wales, encourages farmers throughout Wales to maintain and enhance the agricultural landscape and its wildlife and to provide new opportunities for people to visit the countryside. It replaces the previous schemes such as Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Tir Cymen, and takes forward the experience gained in a single whole farm scheme.

Since its launch it has proved enormously popular with farmers attracting just under 5500 applications in the first first four application rounds. There are now over 1600 agreements across Wales covering some 160,000ha.

Scheme outline

Tir Gofal is a whole farm scheme, available throughout Wales to farmers or others who have responsibility for, and control over, farmed land – usually an owner/occupier or tenant. Tir Gofal comprises four elements:

Land management – mandatory compliance with the whole farm section and management of key habitats; optional restoration or creation of certain habitats or features;

Creating new permissive access – voluntary options available for new linear access routes, new-area based permissive access or to provide for access for educational purposes;

Capital works – payments will be made for additional work to protect and manage habitats and features and to support new access provision;

Training for farmers – including courses on managing specific habitats, such as wetlands and woodlands and practical skills, such as drystone walling and hedge laying.

The scheme offers ten year agreements with a five year break clause.

Tir Gofal operates under the Common Agricultural Policy agri-environment measures, jointly funded by the European Union and the UK Government. It replaces ESAs, Tir Cymen, the Habitat, Moorland and Countryside Access Schemes. The Organic Farm Scheme may operate alongside Tir Gofal. Agreements under existing part-farm schemes, such as the Habitat or Moorland schemes, may be terminated at any time provided that they are replaced by a Tir Gofal agreement. ESA agreements may be terminated at, or at any time after, the break point in order to enter Tir Gofal. The Woodland Grant Scheme is linked to Tir Gofal, enabling its Project Officers to incorporate WGS proposals into the whole farm plan.

Application process

  • All applications must be for holdings of at least 3ha of land.
  • All applications must be able to demonstrate some agricultural production on the land.
  • All applications must be submitted during the publicised application window.
  • Only postal applications will be processed. Details are provided in the application pack.
  • CCW will process applications in date order.
  • Project Officers will visit all holdings with valid applications.
  • During the visit Project Officers will judge the acceptability of the application proposals. At this stage applications will be scored (a copy of the scoring system is enclosed with the application pack).
  • The project officer will explain the score achieved by the application and provide a copy of the scoring sheet.
  • All applications must score above a minimum level of 100 points to proceed to the next stage.
  • If the proposals discussed do not meet the minimum threshold, the application will be rejected.
  • If the application is successful, the Project Officer will then draw up a management plan which will subsequently form part of the Tir Gofal agreement.

To apply:

If you are interested in applying, full details are available in the applicant’s pack. To apply for Tir Gofal you should complete the application form contained in the application pack. CCW will process all signed application forms containing the basic required information including: names, postal address, and a map showing the boundary of the farm. Further information is requested on the form. It is not essential to complete this section but it will help in the processing of your application.

Further information requested includes:

  • Current stocking levels.
  • Types of habitats present.
  • Options you are willing to undertake.
  • A map showing the location of habitats, features and your proposals.
  • Potential applicants must not undertake any work prior to entering the scheme which damages the environmental value of the land, such as removing hedgerows, ploughing or fertilising unimproved grassland or infilling ditches. Such work is likely to result in the application being rejected.

Further Information

Application packs will be available at least one month before the application period opens. CCW offices will register your interest before the application window opens.

Land management

A. Mandatory land management requirements

1. The Whole Farm Section:

  • retain all existing traditional field boundaries (hedges, walls, banks, slate fences) and maintain stockproof boundaries
  • safeguard archaeological and historic features, including traditional buildings
  • retain individual trees & replace where necessary
  • safeguard rock features and geological sites
  • protect ponds, streams & rivers with a 1m buffer strip (increased to 10m for operations involving farmyard manure or slurry)
  • keep the farm clear of rubbish and get prior approval from the project officer for any construction, disposal of off-farm wastes etc
  • manage the land in accordance with the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice
  • maintain whole farm stocking rates at the level specified in the agreement, which will always be less than 2.4LSU/ha/yr
  • public access on foot must be allowed to all unenclosed moorland, heathland and grassland, via existing rights of way. Temporary closure of such areas, for agricultural or conservation reasons, must be approved by the project officer

2. Management of Existing Habitats

  • Woodland and scrub
  • Orchards & parkland
  • Heathland
  • Unimproved grassland
  • Semi-improved grassland
  • Wetlands
  • Unimproved coastal habitats

Guidance on recognising these habitats will be included in the scheme literature.

B. Optional land management opportunities

Opportunities are available to follow prescriptions for the restoration of existing sites or the creation of new environmental features.

  • Landscape and historical features: traditional field boundaries, protection of historic earthworks or stone structures
  • Reducing the intensity of management on arable and improved land: options include unsprayed cereal crops, winter stubbles & undersown spring cereals
  • Grassland restoration such as the conversion of improved to semi-improved grassland, managing grassland for breeding lapwing or over-wintering wildfowl
  • Establishing new habitats and features such as new woodland, streamside corridors or new reed-beds
  • Creating new permissive access – linear access routes,new area based access or access for educational use

For more information about this resource please contact Tom Bown at the Countryside Council for Wales.

The following alternate versions of this document are available:

Tir Gofal Scoring Sheet as PDF
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© University of Hertfordshire, 2011