Farmers and land managers in England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) will be given grants to make improvements to the natural environment, cultural heritage, and public access.

The three-year programme, Farming in Protected Landscapes, was announced today by Government, and will be open to farmers and land managers to support nature recovery, mitigate the effects of climate change, and provide ways for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape.

In this area, the funding available for projects in National Parks and AONBs in the first year comprises:

  • North Pennines AONB – £1,150,000
  • Northumberland Coast AONB – £160,000
  • Northumberland National Park – £395,000

National Parks and AONBs are living, working landscapes that support communities and businesses, but are also home to a huge range of habitats and species. They are also places that are enjoyed by millions of visitors and residents every year. The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will fund a range of projects to help look after these areas.

The programme will provide funding for one-off projects which allow farmers and land managers in protected landscapes to:

  • support nature recovery – such as increasing habitats to improve biodiversity or greater connectivity between habitats
  • mitigate the impacts of climate change – such as reducing flood risk or storing more carbon
  • provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage
  • support nature-friendly and sustainable farm businesses

In each area, projects will be assessed by a local panel to ensure they provide value for money, a legacy from the work, and meet at least one of the scheme’s outcomes, for people, nature, climate, or place. Projects should also meet at least one of the aims of the Management Plan for the relevant National Park or AONB.

Projects to help to mitigate the effects of climate change might include measures to reduce flood risk through natural flood management, or by taking action to reduce a farm’s carbon emissions. Action for nature recovery might include land being improved for wildlife, by creating new habitats or by changing the way land is managed to deliver better results for nature.

Other eligible projects can focus on ‘place’, improving the quality and character of the landscape. These might be restoring and maintaining some of the landscape features and historic assets that make our National Parks and AONBs so distinctive.

Helping people to enjoy and understand the landscape is a priority, and this programme will support projects including those that provide more opportunities for people to access and explore AONBs and National Parks.

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Farmers and land managers obviously have a vital role in the future of our wildlife and our landscapes, and in helping people to enjoy and understand them. Through this programme we aim to help them use their skills, knowledge and experience to come forward with really ambitious new projects.”

Iain Robson, manager of the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, said: “As well as priorities around climate change and nature recovery, the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will provide opportunities for the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership to work closely with farmers and land managers to create better visitor experiences, helping people to have the confidence to explore the landscape, learn about and be inspired by our natural and cultural heritage”.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Thousands of years of farming has shaped the landscape in Northumberland National Park, providing the beautiful and tranquil countryside we enjoy today, and so farmers and land managers are well placed to help lead our response to some of today’s most pressing challenges. The Programme provides the opportunity for farmers and land managers to drive forward new and innovative ideas which will help shape Northumberland National Park for the future, improving the natural environment and people’s access to it and supporting the nation to become net zero by 2050”.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will run from 2021 to 2024, and proposals are invited from 1 July 2021. Further information can be obtained by contacting your local AONB or National Park team. The funding is for one-off projects and is not an agri-environment scheme. Receiving funding from this programme will not prevent farmers or land managers from participating in the emerging Environmental Land Management Schemes, and projects on land within existing stewardship agreements can be funded provided they are additional to the current agreement.