Conservation grants provide funding for habitat creation, improvement and management. Funding is provided by the European Union and each country in the UK has interpreted and implemented European legislation differently. Since 1 January 2015 there are new European Union funds and new rules apply.
Countryside Stewardship helps to improve flood management, landscape character, genetic conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In November 2017 a number of new streamlined Countryside Stewardship options were announced.
The timetable for the Scottish Rural Development Programme SRDP 2015-2020 is as follows:
- Agri-environment: Will open in March 2015 with contracts likely to issue in autumn 2015. To safeguard key habitats and species, some priority multi-annual agri-environment contracts due to expire in 2014 are being renewed.
- Forestry: Open to applications from March 2015, and these submitted and assessed as normal with contracts and payments issuing after SRDP approval.
The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) scheme guidance is available from the Scottish Government website.
The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland. The existing grant scheme the Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS) is closed to applications. A new scheme is being developed for the Rural Development Plan 2014 – 2020.