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Farming in Protected Landscapes

The Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme is now live!

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Protected Landscapes - our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - 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 is introducing the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, which will run from July 2021 to March 2024.

The programme will help farmers and land managers to carry out projects that support nature’s 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.

The programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan. It has been developed by Defra with the support of a group of AONB and National Park staff from across the country. In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Chilterns Conservation Board team will be managing the programme.  


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 or AONB – 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 Chilterns AONB. It can also support activity on other land where projects can demonstrate benefit to the Chilterns AONB or the Chilterns Conservation Board’s objectives or partnership initiatives. Most of the funding will probably be provided to projects within the AONB boundary.

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

What the Programme will pay for

The Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme will pay 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. Please note, your project idea only needs to meet criteria for one of the themes, not all four. 

Climate outcomes Nature outcomes People outcomes Place outcomes
More carbon is stored and/or sequestered There is a greater area of habitat improved for biodiversity

There are more opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape

The quality and character of the landscape is reinforced or enhanced

Flood risk is reduced  There is an increase in biodiversity There are more opportunities for more diverse audiences to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape Historic structures and features are conserved, enhanced or interpreted more effectively
Farmers, land managers and the public better understand what different habitats and land uses can store carbon and reduce carbon emissions  There is greater connectivity between habitats There is greater public engagement in land management, such as through volunteering  There is an increase in farm business resilience. 
The landscape is more resilient to climate change  Existing habitat is better managed  Farmers and land managers feel increasingly comfortable with providing public goods  

Your project must also help to deliver at least one of the Strategic Objectives of the Chilterns AONB Management Plan. Click here to download the objectives. 


Payment rates

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 will work 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).

Maintenance agreements 

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 historic feature) delivered as part of programme will cease no later than 1 April 2024. 

More detail on this can be found in the National Framework.

How to apply

Before applying, we would encourage you to read the guidance for applicants and to contact us to discuss your ideas and potential application.  

To apply, please fill in an application form. Applications for the first year of Programme funding should be made between 1st July 2021 and 31st January 2022. 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.

We will also consider applications for funding in year 2, especially if they aim to begin early in the financial year.

Multi-year awards are possible for longer projects. All projects must end by March 2024.

Download the application form

Read the guidance for applicants

Application assessment

Applications for over £5,000 will be judged by a Local Assessment Panel. 

The Local Assessment Panel will be made up of 8 to 12 people. It will include representatives from the Chilterns AONB, Natural England, representatives from the farming and land management community, and land management and ecology specialists.

We expect that the panel will meet to make decisions every 6 to 8 weeks.

Applications for less than £5,000 will be decided upon by a senior member of the AONB team (who has no prior knowledge of the project).

Useful information

If you have a question about the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme, please complete the enquiry form, email farming@chilternsaonb.org or call 01844 355500. 

For inspiration and practical advice on measures to deliver public goods – from assessing your farm’s carbon footprint to understanding the history of your farm – take a look at our webinar series. For ideas on working collaboratively at landscape scale read about the highly successful farmer-led cluster approach adopted in the Central Chilterns. We are keen to use the fund to support similar approaches elsewhere in the AONB. 

For more information about the Chilterns AONB Management Plan, click here

Please subscribe to our mailing list to be kept up-to-date with this initiative.


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