Helping to manage valuable farm sites

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The second tranche of the Environmental Farming Scheme Higher Level EFS(H) opened for applications on 26 March 2018, providing farmers with an opportunity to bring environmentally designated sites into favourable management.

Although Northern Ireland has extremely valuable sites for wildlife and habitats, overall, the condition of these sites are in decline. Some are entirely dependent on farming to deliver the management they need. There is a real risk that without creating this favourable management through farming, our best sites could be lost.

EFS(H) is specifically designed to put in place the farming management that is required to improve or safeguard these sites via a site specific management plan.

By providing financial support to deliver site specific grazing regimes together with other management requirements to benefit habitats and wildlife, the Scheme aims to enhance the environmental element within farming.

For example, farmland which is not intensively managed tends to be of greater conservation value than highly productive land. But this extensively managed land tends to be vulnerable to problems such as the growth of scrub, bracken, or non-native species, such as laurel or rhododendron, as well as rush infestation.

Where these problems occur, the Scheme can pay to address them in the first year, and to carry out follow-up control in the remaining four years of the Scheme.

In addition, the Scheme can also pay for fencing if it is required to manage grazing as part of the ‘site specific management plan’ for EFS Higher land.

The closing date for applications to EFS H is midnight on 20 April 2018 at