Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)

2.8 Managing your land to protect and enhance the landscape

Why your farm is important

Patterns of field, wood, open moor, common and parkland reflect the long and complex story of our ancestors. The landscape character gives localities their recognisable sense of place and identity, which connects people to the area linking both the natural aspects and our past and current land use. Maintaining this character is usually very important to both local communities and to others who know, visit and experience the area.

Field boundaries, woods and trees are fundamental to the character of the countryside. As agriculture has intensified and farm machinery become more powerful, traditional field boundaries, field patterns, and a more diverse pattern of land use has often become less relevant to modern farming operations. Many distinctive features have been lost or neglected. Recent surveys have shown our upland landscape is particularly threatened. Careful management of important features and vegetation to conserve these can be integrated within a modern farm system to help reduce these impacts.


Priority sites

All of England's landscapes are important and valued in some way by society. Some are nationally recognised and well known for their beauty and special qualities and are designated as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), and others are equally special to the local communities living within or close to them.

To help decide how best to contribute to the stewardship of your area, consider how your farm fits into the surrounding countryside and identify the important landscape features on your farm. You may find it helpful to look at information on landscape character. National Character Areas descriptions are available at www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/landscape/default.aspx. If your farm is within a National Park or AONB, you may find a Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) on their website which will describe the local landscape character more fully. Some local authorities also have LCAs for their area.


What you can do to protect and manage the landscape

By adopting the options appropriate to the local landscape character and features of your land you will be helping to protect our landscape heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. The tables below summarise some of the most significant actions you could take and the ELS options most suitable for those farming in the lowlands and those farming in the uplands. Other options for historic environment and habitat management, especially those for grassland, meadows and moorland, will also contribute significantly to enhancing and maintaining your landscape.


Reserve enhancement scheme, stone wall maintenance
© Natural England/Peter Wakely


Traditional boundaries and historic stock enclosures
  • Maintain and restore boundaries and stock enclosures, using traditional materials and styles, ensuring their landscape and historic significance is retained. This also ensures that the boundaries and enclosures retain their usefulness for stock management and wildlife.
  • Local forms of gate, stone gateposts and stiles are important features contributing to landscape character.
Code Option description
EB3 Hedgerow management for landscape and wildlife
EB6 Ditch management
EB7 Half ditch management
EB10 Combined hedge and ditch management (incorporating EB3)
EB11 Stone wall protection and maintenance
EB14 Hedgerow restoration
UB4 Stone-faced hedgebank management on both sides on or above the Moorland Line
UB5 Stone-faced hedgebank management on one side on or above the Moorland Line
UB11 Stone wall protection and maintenance on or above the Moorland Line
UB12 Earth bank management on both sides on or above the Moorland Line
UB13 Earth bank management on one side on or above the Moorland Line
UB15 Stone-faced hedgebank restoration
UB16 Earth bank restoration
UB17 Stone wall restoration


Woodland and trees
  • Safeguard and maintain the open and expansive nature of upland landscapes and the more intimate diverse patterns of lowland landscapes. This can be achieved through careful use of appropriate management options for trees and woodland, grassland and moorland.
Code Option description
EC2 Protection of in-field trees on grassland
EC3 Maintenance of woodland fences
EC4 Management of woodland edges
EC23 Establishment of hedgerow trees by tagging
EC24 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on cultivated land
EC25 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on grassland
UC5 Sheep fencing around small woodlands
UC22 Woodland livestock exclusion
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