Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)

2.6 Managing habitats for brown hare

Why your farm is important

The brown hare was once very common and widespread across the country; however, the population has declined substantially in recent decades. The brown hare is now most common in the open arable landscapes of eastern Britain. Changes in farming practices, post World War II, such as larger fields, less stubble and a simpler crop rotation, have all reduced the amount of food available for hares and have contributed towards their decline.


Priority areas for brown hare

This map shows the priority areas for brown hare. It is intended to help you establish whether the options below are suitable for your farm. More detailed regional maps are available on the Natural England website at: www.naturalengland.org.uk/es.

If your farm is located in a high-priority or medium-priority area, by including the options into your agreement, you will be helping brown hare thrive on your farm.







What you can do for the brown hare

Hares require quiet, undisturbed cover to raise young and to hide from predators. Wild bird seed and grass mixes provide cover and a good source of food. Stubbles and game crops can also provide good cover for hares. Hares require continuous grazing throughout the year, so options which improve all year round grazing are beneficial for hare populations.


Code Option description
EC4 Management of woodland edges
EF2 Wild bird seed mixture
EF6 Overwintered stubble
EF7 Beetle banks
EF9 Cereal headlands for birds
EF10 Unharvested cereal headlands for birds and rare arable plants
EF13 Uncropped cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds on arable land
EF15 Reduced-herbicide cereal crops followed by overwintered stubble
EF22 Extended overwintered stubble
EG1 Undersown spring cereals
EG4 Cereals for whole-crop silage followed by overwintered stubble
EJ13 Winter cover crops
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